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Commissioner says year will be challenging
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Tennessee  Commissioner of Education Dr. Penny Schwinn joined County Executive Jimmy Haley’s weekly press conference by telephone Tuesday morning and offered words of encouragement for the upcoming school year.

“I applaud the work that’s been done throughout the state and think that we will continue to demonstrate a national example of what’s possible when people keep really positive attitudes and are willing to dig in and do the hard work as Tennessee has continued to show year after year,” Dr. Schwinn said. 

Dr. Schwinn spoke of teacher kits which will be delivered to every school in Tennessee as a result of a $77 million allocation by Gov. Bill Lee last week.

“Every school will have the opportunity to continue to reorder throughout the year to make sure that teachers stay stocked in those critical things like disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves,” Dr. Schwinn explained.

Dr. Schwinn expressed her eagerness to get back out to schools so she can participate in the learning process.

“I look forward to being in classrooms to rally everyone and to encourage them. This year’s going to be more challenging for sure but I think it can also be rewarding,” she said.

“I plan to be in schools regularly for the next few months as I have been since I started. I haven’t gotten to be in schools in months now and it’s really the best part of the job,” said Dr. Schwinn. “Getting to see teachers with their students and the learning that’s taking place.”

Director of Schools Grant Swallows addressed the audience and went over the plan to open Warren County schools on Aug. 12. Swallows reported the School Board had decided last week to mandate mask wearing for students, teachers, and staff.

“Our plan is continuing as it has been. We announced that in late June to return to our school calendar on Aug. 12. We will go on a hybrid model to where we can get our students in smaller groups,” Swallows said.

The plan calls for students with last names that start with letters A-L to physically attend school on Monday and Wednesday and learn remotely on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Students whose last names start with letters M-Z will physically attend school on Tuesday and Thursday and learn remotely on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

This method of attendance will be practiced for the first two-and-a-half weeks of school to implement safety procedures and safety protocols.

“We have received a mandate from our board to make sure that teachers and students are wearing masks. We released that policy late last week and we’re working hard to make sure our students and our staff are staying safe,” Swallows said.

“It’s a fairly divisive issue, going back to school,” said Swallows. “To the ones coming back, we’re expecting a great year.”

“But along with a great year comes some responsibility,” Swallows added. “Responsibility of distancing when asked and when told. Responsibility of masking when asked and when told.”

“Responsibilities of good hygiene and taking care of ourselves because that’s the only way for us to continue to function effectively as a school system,” Swallows said.

“We released a comprehensive document detailing all these plans on Friday of last week on and I encourage everyone to look that over,” said Swallows.