Hamilton County Schools officials are asking the school board to approve a proposal to close out the school year that includes releasing students earlier than originally planned, grade considerations and plans for summer school.
As elected officials begin to work to re-open the state, school districts are gearing up to end school for the year. Hamilton County Schools released draft recommendations Tuesday ahead of the school board's monthly meeting Thursday.
Students have been learning from home since the district first closed schools on March 16 amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The district extended the initial closure to April 27 after recommendations from Gov. Bill Lee on March 24 — but then on April 15, Lee called on schools not to re-open at all this school year.
"Hamilton County Schools is following this recommendation, but there are several areas that must be addressed in order to ensure an efficient and effective close-out of the school year takes place," said a release on the district's website. "Additionally, there are several considerations and recommendations that will be forthcoming to ensure students are prepared for the start of the 2020-2021 school year."
The Hamilton County school board will discuss the draft recommendations during its virtual April board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. The meeting was rescheduled from April 16 due to last week's tornadoes. The meeting will be live-streamed on Hamilton County Schools' Facebook and YouTube pages.
Under the proposed recommendations, the last day of school will be May 15 for students, except high school seniors, whose last day will be May 4. In the original 2019-20 school year calendar, students would have remained in class until May 21.
The district is also proposing a "continued learning plan" for this summer to make up for missed instructional time.
The federal government approved the CARES Act, which will afford local systems additional one-time funds to address learning needs due to COVID-19, according to the release. Superintendent Bryan Johnson told the school board Monday that the district anticipates receiving around $10 million through CARES Act funds, which will be used for summer learning, literacy instruction transitions and other areas.
Participation by students and teachers in the summer plans is optional, but will be encouraged.
The recommendations include summer academies hosted by each of the district's five learning communities running from June 1 through July 2.
Each academy would be staffed with a principal, instructional coaches, teachers and other necessary staff and would provide supplemental lessons, especially in English Language Arts.
Elementary summer support will be available all day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at select locations and would include target kindergarten readiness as well as transitioning students from grades second through fourth.
Middle school summer learning would also be available from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.daily from June 1 through July 2. The draft proposal recommends differentiated start times for high school summer learning and includes opportunities for targeted support and credit recovery.
The recommendations also include guidance around high school graduation requirements, which were loosened at the state level by an emergency policy change by the Tennessee State Board of Education earlier this month as well as guidance for teachers on how to submit final grades after the state board announced districts could not penalize students for missed time after schools officially closed statewide on March 20.
The district also already released a tentative schedule for postponed high school graduation ceremonies and other senior year celebrations.
For more information on the draft recommendations, visit www.hcde.org.
Contact Meghan Mangrum at email@example.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.