Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson

As you know, we were able to hold in-class instruction for most schools through the first semester.

However, toward the end of the first semester, we dealt with staff absences due to quarantines following Thanksgiving break.

In discussions with our local health officials, we are planning for similar trends following the Christmas and New Year holidays, as many families have traveled to get together.

In order to allow proper planning on your part and the part of our teachers and support staff, Hawkins County Schools is making the decision to begin our spring semester with virtual learning.

The last thing we want to do is begin a schedule and then change it out of necessity, forcing last-minute changes upon you.

We want to inform you early and monitor the numbers locally during the weeks following the holiday break.

Schedule and procedures

Instruction: All HCS schools will utilize virtual instruction beginning Jan. 4 through Jan. 19. We plan to return to classroom instruction on Wednesday, Jan. 20, following the end of the governor’s Executive Order 70. Please see the classroom links posted by your child’s teacher. When we return to in-class instruction, we will follow the Yellow phase plan of having students in school Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and virtual instruction with small group, targeted instruction on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Teachers: Unless quarantined or otherwise prevented from doing so, all HCS teachers will report directly to their classrooms in order to provide virtual daily lessons and support.

Students: Small, targeted student group support will continue through this period. Per our operational plan, we will bring in small groups of students Monday through Friday during this time. Please see your child’s teacher or your site’s administrator if you are contacted to send your child to school during this time. If you are not contacted, please ensure your student is accessing all materials online during this time.

Communication and attendance: To ensure consistent student communication, schools will establish schedules for work submission and student contact. This may include procedures for submitting work virtually, communicating directly with the teacher, and/or dropping work off at the school site if applicable. As we return to virtual instruction, please remember that attendance will be taken daily. Students without internet connectivity should work with their schools to ensure that daily instruction is ongoing.

Free student meals: Meals with be provided to those on campus and for pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. unless otherwise notified on your school’s website.

Sports: Per Gov. Lee’s executive order and new TSSAA spectator recommendations, sports will continue as long as team members and coaches are COVID-19 free. Please see the latest from TSSAA here: https://tssaa.org/article/governor-restricts-spectators-at-sporting-events. School sites will soon release updated spectator procedures. Please look for communication from your student’s coach or school site administration.

We want to thank you for supporting our efforts to keep HCS schools open this year. Our continuing goal is to keep students in class if safe to do so by monitoring and reacting to local school and system-based data.

Matt Hixson is the Hawkins County director of schools.