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White Co Schools Working On Lessons From Shutdown

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

White County Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger said school leaders want to learn from the COVID-19 shutdown. He siad one of the biggest challenges the school system has faced has been a lack of internet connections.

Dronebarger said even if the district had a device to give every student during the shutdown, many would not be able to use them.

“There’s just not enough internet service out there in the homes,” Dronebarger said. “So, what we’re trying to do right now is try to assess is how many homes do we have and how we can supplement connectivity with, maybe, some remote devices we can send into homes. We’ve talked about sending our buses with wi-fi and park them in some neighborhoods so folks could benefit from having internet service that way. We’re just trying to determine that right now.”

With so many questions remaining on what the next school year will look like, Dronebarger said school leaders are trying to think of new ways to approach educating students.

“We’re all preparing for a possible hybrid in-person and at-home type of work,” Dronebarger said. “With what we know right now, if we had to start school again today, we would have to do something like that. We could possibly have some students come in one day and other students come in the next, but that’s all speculation at this point, but that’s kind of what the Upper Cumberland directors are discussing.”

Graduation Day has been set for June 15 in White County.

“That will be an on-site graduation ceremony at the high school,” Dronebarger said. “We will have our baccalaureate ceremony the day before per tradition. The date is tentative based on weather, but those are our plans. If we can’t have an on-site graduation due to health concerns, then we’ll have a Plan B in place, which is a drive thru parade type of thing through town as a graduation ceremony.”

Although graduation has been rescheduled, Dronebarger said White County will keep its original last day of school.

“Our last full day of school was set for May 22,” Dronebarger said. “We will be providing meals, academic packets, and academic opportunities for students through that day.”

Dronebarger said the system will have limited summer programs this year.

“We traditionally haven’t run a summer school program for a number of years,” Dronebarger said. “However we do have some credit recovery and grade recovery classes. That’s probably going to be a lot of online work and a combination of things were going to have to meet in person on, but mostly it’s going to be online opportunities.”

With Teacher Appreciation Week this week, Dronebarger said he was really appreciative of how White County teachers have adapted.

“I’m so proud of the efforts they’ve made,” Dronebarger said. “We have some people who aren’t very technologically savvy, and they’ve had to become savvy in a short amount of time. I’ve just been impressed in how our teacher’s have reached out to parents. We’ve contacted, or at least tried to contact, several times, every student in our district personally. Our teachers have daily call hours where they are available for parents and students to reach them, and they are going above and beyond that.”


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