Washington Co., Tenn. teachers reflect on virtual start to new school year

Keeping Schools Safe

WASHINGTON CO., Tenn. (WJHL) — Monday marked the first day of school for Washington County, Tennessee students, faculty, and staff, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students were signing in to class online.

According to the Washington County Schools reopening plan, teachers will be at school every day school is open to provide learning resources and to interact with students as they start the school year online.

“I was super nervous,” said Boones Creek Elementry School Eighth Grade Teacher Katy Hancock. “I’m always super nervous when we start school every year, but this year felt like I was a first-year teacher again, but once we got online and we saw the kids it felt semi-normal”

School hallways were empty as schools started the fall semester.

“This is my eight-year teaching and the first day of school is usually loud and just people everywhere and so this year was very quiet and a little eerie with the rain,” explained Hancock.

Both teachers and students are adapting to virtual learning.

“With our older kids were able to have these large meetings where we can talk to all of them at the same time but our elementary school teachers are focusing on really getting to know them like they would in the classroom,” Hancock said.

Teaching virtually looks different depending on grade levels, especially for Jonesborough Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher Carla Anderson.

“They do not know what school is you know, this is so new to them,” said Anderson. “Who is this lady on the computer telling me to do something and say my ABC’s? And so it’s going to be a really unique experience this year.”

The school system is trying to stick to a normal schedule as much as possible so that all ages can adjust when they have to go back to the classroom.

“They will be online,” explains Anderson. “I’ll have a little mini-lesson we can assign them work to do either on the computer or with pen and paper at home. We can work in small groups. Then they’re going to pop off and they’re actually going to related arts classes like P.E. and music and library.”

Washington County Schools plans to remain on a virtual schedule for 30 days but will watch local coronavirus numbers and respond accordingly.

Hancock said that there were a few issues with people still trying to figure out virtual learning, but they hope to work out the knicks within the coming weeks.

“The most that I’m really worried about is not being able to access every student,” said Hancock, “That’s my main fear. I know that not everybody has the same opportunities throughout our county.”

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