With the school year now officially over, Trousdale County officials are looking at ways to keep students engaged during a much longer than expected summer break.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield announced last week that Trousdale County Schools would follow the recommendation of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who advised in an April 15 press conference that schools not reopen.

“To protect public health, we will continue to adhere to the advice and recommendations of the Governor and remain closed for the remainder of the school calendar. However, it is vital that our families and community understand that long-term school closures such as COVID-19 will have significant life implications for children,” Satterfield said in a statement.

During Thursday’s School Board meeting, Satterfield updated board members on Continuity of Learning plans developed by teachers and how those are being utilized. Those plans are designed to go through May 15.

Satterfield said the week of May 18-22 would be used in some form to allow students back into the school buildings to claim personal possessions.

“We’ve got to design a plan for students to be able to come to school in small groups to get their belongings,” he said. “We’ve also got to get a plan for them to turn in their Chromebooks.”

Nearly 300 Chromebooks have been picked up by students in grades 6-12 for use at home for CLP classwork.

A second Chromebook pickup was scheduled for earlier this week at the high school and the middle school. Parents picking up Chromebooks had to sign the district’s policy, which requires them to take responsibility if the computer is lost or damaged.

Satterfield said the high school was also adding routers to allow students who lack Internet access at home to be able to use the school’s Wi-Fi from the parking lot.

“We’re adding a hotspot at the high school… and you can drive right in and get Wi-Fi for people who don’t have (it),” he added.

In addition to the Chromebooks, paper & pencil options for CLP classwork are available.

The School Board approved policies Thursday night stating that the CLPs are optional and will not be counted in a student’s grade, unless it would improve that grade. Students will also not be penalized if they choose not to participate in CLP work.

“It can help a student’s grade; it will never hurt it,” Satterfield said.

Additionally, Trousdale County Schools will be receiving $283,000 in federal stimulus money through the CARES Act, which must be used for distance-learning opportunities.

“We’ll have to decide how we’re going to use that money,” Satterfield said. “I would like to extend learning opportunities with the younger grades, like K-2, who missed out on those foundational reading skills.”

Investments in technology to expand online curriculum and educational opportunities are also a possibility for the federal money, he said.

“It is essential that our school district, administrators, teachers, parents, and children work collaboratively together to mitigate the potential loss of learning due to what has now become a 17-week school closure,” Satterfield added. “Our teachers continue to work diligently to provide high-quality lessons that parents and students can effectively do at home. In the best interest of students, I strongly encourage parents to support their children’s education through the final week of school, May 11-15.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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