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HUNTSVILLE — Nearly 400 students in the Scott County School System will attend school virtually when classes begin later this month.
Some 393 students had signed up for the Scott Virtual Academy as of midnight Friday night — the deadline for doing so. That’s about 14% of the school system’s total students, based on 2019 enrollment numbers.
Virtual participation ranges from a high of 18% — nearly 1 in 5 students — at Huntsville Elementary School to a low of 11% at Robbins Elementary. Those percentages are a little skewed by the fact that Huntsville Elementary is a K-5 school, while Robbins is a K-8 school. As a general rule, the virtual school participation rates are higher in primary grades than in junior high or secondary grades.
Across the school system as a whole, 37 kindergarteners will participate in the virtual academy, as will 30 first graders, 34 second graders, 40 third graders, 23 fourth graders, 33 fifth graders, 25 sixth graders, 31 seventh graders and 29 eighth graders. At Scott High, 26 freshmen will attend classes virtually, along with 26 sophomores, 34 juniors and 25 seniors.
By raw numbers, Scott High will have the most students taking part in the virtual option — 111. Winfield will have the fewest, with just 26 participating virtually. Those two schools also have the county’s largest and smallest student bodies, respectively.
Like the Oneida Special School District, Scott County is giving students the option to attend classes in-person or virtually in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two school systems’ virtual plans are similar, but do include some differences. Most notably, students who opted to attend class virtually in the county school system will not be allowed to participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities.
In the Scott Virtual Academy, kindergarten students will be required to participate in 4.5 hours of instruction each school day, while grades 1-12 will be required to participate in 7 hours of instruction each day. For grades K-5, a parent, guardian or other approved adult is required to be present for all virtual instruction. Their presence is strongly recommended — but not required — for students in grades 6-12.
Students are not required to be logged-on to the online learning portal consistently from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the school system is encouraging parents to keep their children’s instructional day as close to the regular classroom schedule as possible.
Each grade will have a different time break-down by subject. As an example, students in grades 3-5 will spend 90 minutes daily on reading, 90 minutes on math, 75 on science and social studies, 45 on physical activities, 45 on arts and specials, 45 on remediation and enrichment programs, and will have 30 minutes for lunch.
The school system is offering technical support in the form of loaner laptops that can be checked out by families that do not have a computer.
The county school system’s first day of school will be Monday, August 10. However, the first two weeks will be phase-in weeks, with only select grades attending each day.
Originally, the first week, August 10-14, was to have been a phase-in week. But Director of Schools Bill Hall said Friday evening that the second week would be a phase-in week, as well.
“At next week’s worksession, I will be recommending to the Board of Education that we extend the phase-in period for an additional week to allow for increased distancing and to focus on health procedures,” Hall said in a statement. “Please be patient as we work through this ever-changing situation.”
The announcement came as coronavirus cases in Scott County continue to rise. The county was up to 51 active cases as of Friday, after the TN Dept. of Health reported 23 new cases in a 48-hour period.
Oneida also announced changes to the start of its school year on Friday, with a staggered schedule for the first month of school.