‘Welcome back and thanks for all that you did last year,’ Johnson City, Norton start the school year

Back To School

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) — Johnson City Schools and Norton City Schools reopen their doors Wednesday, Aug. 4 to students. Students will be back in the classroom full-time. While they’re not requiring masks for students, each district is recommending them. However, masks will be required on both district’s buses.

In Johnson City, students will return for a full day of classes. Previously, students began with a half-day, but Superintendent of Johnson City Public Schools Dr. Steve Barnett says they feel like it allows them to get a lot done on that first day and keep up the momentum.

“I’m just looking forward to having these students back in schools and having an opportunity to go in and see teachers and the great work that they do and students learning,” said Dr. Barnett.

Johnson City Schools modified their mask guidance to recommended at the board meeting Monday, Aug. 2. Dr. Barnett said they will continue to look at what the Tennessee Department of Health recommends for schools.

That is the approach Dr. Gina Wohlford, Superintendent of Norton City Schools, is also taking. She said their district will continue to follow guidance from the CDC and Virginia Department of Education. Norton City Schools are strongly recommending masks in schools. Dr. Wohlford said she is eager for students to have a more normal school year.

“I’m just looking forward to having these students back in schools and having an opportunity to go in and see teachers and the great work that they do and students learning,” said Dr. Wohlford.

Norton City Schools are expanding a program to better address students’ needs beyond just learning. In partnership with United Way and Communities in Schools, the system is expanding its trauma-informed initiative.

“If we’ve learned anything from the COVID year, it’s that our kids need more support emotionally and socially and so with our ESSER 3 funding, we were able to add those partnerships,” said Dr. Wohlford. “We know students have faced trauma, we have students who have been virtual who have probably not had any socialization in regard to a school year what they’re used to.”

Dr. Wohlford said she’s excited for the teachers to be more aware and be more receptive to how to work with the students.

Both school districts will continue with frequent sterilization and ask anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to stay home and get tested.

Greenville City Schools and Greene County Schools also return Wednesday.

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