STRODER 1-12-21

On Tuesday, RCS Director J.T. Stroder told the Board of Education via ZOOM meeting that he still has several faculty members who either have COVID or are under quarantine for COVID.

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County’s ongoing spike in new COVID-19 cases is putting Rogersville students’ scheduled return to the classroom next week in question.

As of Tuesday, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 379 new COVID-19 cases for the previous seven days, including 99 on Sunday, which was the third-highest single- day total since the pandemic began.

Although students at Rogersville City School were scheduled to return to the classroom Jan. 19, on Tuesday RCS director J.T. Stroder told the Board of Education he still has several faculty members who either have COVID or are under quarantine.

If it does happen, the Jan. 19 return to the classroom will be on the hybrid schedule, where half the student body alternates two days in the classroom and two days virtual on Monday through Thursday, and then all students are virtual on Friday.

“Leadership teams are planning to meet tomorrow (Wednesday) to kind of see where we’re at,” Stroder told the BOE Tuesday. “We know we have a number of staff who have COVID or are out on quarantine because of COVID. We’re giving until Wednesday (before the final decision is made) just to make sure we’ve got a good count who we have and who we don’t have. We’ve also visited with the teachers to get some input.”

Stroder added, “We’re going to sit down in the morning (Wednesday), and really take a hard look at the numbers and figure out when we want kids to come back. Clearly we want kids to come back as soon as possible. … I wish I could tell you today we’re coming back full time on Jan. 19, but we’re just not there yet on making that decision.”

Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson told the Times News Tuesday he and his staff are still monitoring numbers, but currently it is his recommendation that county schools return to a four-day classroom schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Fridays will remain mostly virtual in the county schools.

The county schools had chosen Jan. 20 as its return to classroom day so that administrators could take one last look at the COVID statistics that Tuesday after the MLK Day holiday before opening the school doors.

According to the TDH, since the beginning of the pandemic, Hawkins County has recorded a total of 4,287 positive COVID-19 cases, 110 hospitalizations, 65 COVID-associated deaths, and 3,569 patients recovered.