Johnson City Schools survey shows 1 in 5 students interested in remote learning option this fall

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- The Johnson City Schools system released further information about their remote learning option on Tuesday. A handbook and presentation detailing the remote learning program are now up on the school system’s website. The official application to choose remote learning opens July 20th. It will close July 24th at noon.

Johnson City Schools has sent out an initial survey to families, asking if they’d choose in-person or remote learning for their kids.

Dr. Debra Bentley, Director of Instruction & Communication for Johnson City Schools, said Tuesday that the district has received responses for around half of their students.

“Based on our intent-to-return survey, the interest in remote learning is approximately 1 in 5 students,” said Bentley.

Like many other Johnson City Schools parents, Amanda Elliott is having to make a choice. She can send her daughters back to school in-person next month, or choose remote learning. Amanda and her husband both work and the health of her family is a priority.

“My father-in-law lives with us. He’s older and he’s in one of those higher-risk categories,” said Amanda.

The Elliotts will send their 4-year-old to in-person preschool. They’ve already gotten her a princess faceshield to wear for covering her face. But their daughter in 4th grade will continue to learn from home.

“She did really well when we were on the crisis schooling,” said Amanda. “We decided to keep her online, at least for the first nine weeks to see how things play out.”

Johnson City Schools is allowing K-6 students to choose a nine or 18-week option for remote learning. Grades 7-12 have an 18-week option.

“We will assume, if we do not have an application for remote learning for your child, then they will be coming into the building on August 4th,” said Dr. Bentley.

Dr. Bentley said parents should carefully read through the district’s handbook on remote learning before choosing. Not every class offered at traditional school is offered online.

Students in grades 1-12 will have to spend 32.5 hours a week engaged in remote learning.

“Those 32.5 hours include lunch during the day. It includes their time to work on tasks, to read independently. The 6.5 hours a day should not be totally in front of a computer screen,” said Bentley.

Bentley said having the remote learning framework in place will allow for an easier transition if schools suddenly had to go back to remote learning for all students, like they did in the spring.

“We will be ready now to deliver what we’re doing for this select group for all students,” she said.

If families choosing remote learning suddenly want to switch back to traditional school, the handbook says this should be done in a written request to a school’s principal by August 10th.

The handbook reads:

“Each request made after August 10, 2020, will be given consideration at the end of the nine-week marking period on a case by case basis for grades K-6. Consideration will be given at the end of the semester (eighteen-weeks) for grades 7-12.”

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