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Schools restart Tuesday
Grant Swallows headshot.jpg
Grant Swallows

Warren County students are scheduled to return to class this Tuesday after a one-week COVID shutdown.

Director of Schools Grant Swallows says cleaning has taken place during the shutdown and social distancing will remain an emphasis when children return Tuesday.

“Sickness continues to be something we’re dealing with in our community and we’ll continue to deal with it in our schools,” said Swallows. “We want to keep kids in school as much as we can and we hope to avoid another shutdown if at all possible.”

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in an Aug. 27 letter to school directors that her department will consider allowing virtual learning in extreme cases where COVID infections are rampant. This is a shift from the state’s previous stance that remote learning would not be allowed except at the state’s designated virtual schools.

In her letter, Schwinn said virtual learning may be granted for an individual classroom or individual school, but it won’t be allowed district-wide.

“That may be something we look to use moving forward, but she (Schwinn) has made it clear it will only be something that’s allowed when we have no other option,” said Swallows.

The state has provided no real metric or percentage on when remote learning may be permitted. A waiver must be filed and state officials will review waiver requests three times a day, Schwinn said.

Swallows said a worst-case scenario would be to close schools again. “We hope not to have to do that,” he said.

Warren County Schools used five of its stockpiled inclement weather days to cancel school last week. That leaves the school system with five more, plus the possibility of three professional development days which could be rolled into bad weather days.

“One thing that works in our favor is we’ll have the benefit of two straight four-day weeks coming back,” said Swallows.

The school system has a four-day week this week due to Labor Day. The following week, students don’t go to school on Friday, Sept. 17 due to Fair Day.