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Schools in Sumner County and across Tennessee are to remain closed for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus outbreak. Online learning remains an option for students through May 22.

With school in Tennessee out until the fall semester, the grades that students amassed at the end of the third nine weeks will stand as the baseline for their grades for the spring semester of 2020.

Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that schools in Tennessee would remain closed through the normal summer break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools in Sumner County dismissed for spring break the week of March 16, and students never went back to finish the semester because of the pandemic that spread across the United State and the world.

In that time, Sumner County students were given the option to do online school work in the interim to help them stay somewhat caught up with the lessons they missed in the fourth nine weeks to prepare them to be able to start the fall in the next grade and not be behind academically.

The Edgenuity program is the most prevalent online option offered by Sumner County Schools for high school students, though some students and teachers are using other online methods as part of the education process. Students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade have other programs, such as the Eureka math program and the greatminds.org website for their language arts course.

For those who wish to add a few points to their current grades, they should continue the online course until the school year was scheduled to end normally on May 22. According to Portland High School principal David Woods, the county has determined that students can boost their number grade averages in each course by up to five points before the semester comes to an end online.

“Basically what the state board of education said was for the semester long classes in high school, all grades would be frozen as of March 20. What that means for us is that whatever grade you had for that third nine weeks in that class, you can’t get anything lower,” Woods explained. “If I had a 75 in Algebra I heading into spring break, I’m guaranteed a 75. I can’t get anything lower. However, there is an opportunity for the next five weeks, from now until May 22, if they are working in Edgenuity or if their particular teacher is working with them through Google Classroom or whatever platform, they can earn five enrichment points to add to their grade — one per week.

“For example, my 75, if I want to, I can make it into an 80 by completing all the online work. But if I decide I’m good with 75 and I don’t do anything, I’m locked in at 75. That’s something that some people are going to take advantage of, because five percentage point on our grading scale is about half a letter grade. It could be the difference between an A or a B.”

It also could mean the difference in passing or failing a class for some students. And for those whose average in a class is below 65, where the five additional points would not bring them up to a passing grade in a course, the county is already working to enroll those students in credit recovery. The plan is to begin that sooner rather than wait for the summer as usual.

“We’re going to have some kids that were probably failing a class at that point, and if they were below a 65, they can’t get to a passing grade. What we’re going to do with them, we have a program called credit recovery, and they will get an opportunity to make it up. We’re going to try to go ahead and enroll them online so they can go ahead and get started on that now and not have to wait till summer or next school year. They can go ahead and start doing it,” Woods said.

Students who don’t have access to internet or computers need to let their teachers know so that they can help provide materials and/or access for those students. Currently, wi-fi access is available in the parking lots at North Sumner Elementary School in Oak Grove, Gallatin High School and Hendersonville if students want to drive there to the parking lots to do their assignments while staying in their cars.

There are even ways for students who don’t have the ability to drive. If students are truly interested in doing the school work but have no internet access, the materials can be sent to them.

“For those that don’t have internet access or device access, which we have some, they just need to let their teachers know that and our district has a couple groups down there, the attendance and safe schools programs, we’re going to somehow try to get them some materials so they can do stuff if they want to,” Woods said.

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