Parents express frustration at Sullivan County BOE meeting

Keeping Schools Safe

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Parents had a chance to give their input during an in-person meeting Thursday evening of the Sullivan County Board of Education at Sullivan Central High School.

Some expressed frustration over the way the school year started. Many said they want their children in classrooms as soon as possible because remote learning from home is not feasible.

“I’m not saying wait until we get back to yellow because I think it’s going to be a while,” said parent Missy Sturgill. “I’m just saying give it a little bit more time to see if the mask mandate is working and cases start going down.”

One student addressed the board asking for the chance to return to the classroom.

“Online schooling takes away my support system,” said Sullivan South High School sophomore Skylar Mittelsteadt. “Anything enjoyable about school has been taken away.”

Some said online learning has forced them or a spouse to leave their jobs.

“Yesterday, our oldest child didn’t have school, the youngest one had 20 minutes of school,” said parent, Ben Castle. “My fiancé missed out on a full day’s work.”

School board members say they sympathize with parents and want kids back in the classroom.

“The board as a whole has been given a set of rules that conflict,” said board chair, Michael Hughes. “On the one hand we have people saying go back to school, on the other they’re giving us a set of rules that makes it mathematically impossible.”

Director of Schools, Dr. David Cox said in-person learning is the goal and so are fall sports. But, he said if Covid-19 numbers remain elevated and if students test positive- action must be taken.

“Members of our sports communities contract Covid-19 and with the contact tracing they’ve had to go into quarantine for the 14 days so that’s a limiting factor in the ability to have sports and the same is really true back into the classroom,” Cox said.

Cox also said enrollment is down and asked that any families with internet issues to contact the district as help is available.

Students in Sullivan County will continue online learning until August 24th. Then, the district will launch a hybrid schedule with students divided into groups learning in person some days and at home on others.

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