Kingsport City Schools returns to in-person and hybrid learning with masks, distancing

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- For the first time since March, some Kingsport City Schools students are back to learning in physical classrooms.

KCS allowed elementary-aged students to return in full on Monday. Meanwhile, middle and high school students returned on a hybrid schedule. On its hybrid schedule, Kingsport City Schools has students learning in-person two days a week and online three days. Days that students learn in-person are determined alphabetically by last names.

The school system still has about 1,700 students who opted for remote-only learning. That’s 23 percent of their total students who chose to continue learning online.

So while at least half of John Sevier Middle School students were still learning from home on Monday, Kelli Seymour, the school’s principal, was happy to see some students filling the hallways again.

“It just brings an energy to the building that we have been missing for some time,” she said.

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The hybrid schedule is meant to create more space for kids to spread out. At John Sevier, there are signs everywhere promoting new rules for the students. Seymour said students are supposed to walk on the right side of the hallway, keep six feet apart, frequently wash and sanitize their hands, and always wear a mask – unless they’re eating or in P.E. class.

“As far as I know, every student that came today had a mask. They’ve worn them as expected. And really the toughest part for them is that social distancing piece, because they’re ready to be with their friends,” said Seymour.

During lunch periods, there’s arranged seating on one side of the cafeteria, so the other side can be cleaned. Drinking fountains are covered with tarps, and students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles. Lockers also aren’t being used. Instead, students carry their bags with them.

Students spaced out in a classroom Monday

In classrooms, students are supposed to have a desk between them, and teachers keep their windows open as much as possible.

“They’ll clean their rooms as frequently as they can between class changes, and then we’ll get a good deep-clean every evening from our custodial staff,” said Seymour.

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