Sullivan Co. family not surprised by virtual school start

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SULLIVAN CO., Tenn. (WJHL)- The Tri-Cities’ largest district announced Friday that they would be starting the school year online. The first day of school in Sullivan County is still August 5th and each individual school will get in touch with parents to distribute supplies.

“It doesn’t have the appearance of a very well thought out plan,” said Sullivan Co. grandparent Budd Hart.

The news on Friday wasn’t a surprise to the Hart family. They suspected school wouldn’t start in person this fall.

“They sent out a questionnaire and obviously in this questionnaire,” Budd said. “They were pushing toward virtual learning.”

He and his daughter, Katy had been pulling double duty as grandfather, mom and teacher. Now, they have about 10 days to figure out how they’ll start the school year with Silas learning from home.

“I’m a single mom, I am the one that has to work,” Katy said. “How else am I going to pay my bills? How are these parents supposed to teach their kids and work?”

Silas will be in the second grade at Meadowview Elementary School when he starts online in just a few days.

“My son has ADHD,” Katy said. “How is going to sit for six and a half hours at a kitchen table, looking at a computer and get something from it?”

Sullivan Co. is in the “Red Zone” for COVID-19 cases- and that’s what administrators say led to the decision.

“We have had a lot of feedback from our parents, from our staff really stressed out by the uncertainties of it all,” said Sullivan County Director of Schools, Dr. David Cox. “We felt like we needed to give enough notice to parents and to our staff so we know how to plan for the beginning days of school.”

Dr. Cox says administrators will meet with the health department every Thursday and announce the following week’s plan on Friday.

“It’s not an absolute that just because you’re in a particular color that you’re going to operate a certain way,” said Dr. Cox. “We work with our health department and make those decisions in conjunction with them.”

Back at the Hart house, they are wondering why school is an exception.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they’re pushing the kids to go online especially when you can have the Bristol Motor Speedway open, have restaurants and bars and everything else,” said Katy. “Why is that okay and people can go do that, but kids can’t go to school?”

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