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School Buildings Closed Thanksgiving Week

posted Nov 13, 2020, 1:32 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

In response to a rising infection rate of COVID-19 in our community, White County school buildings will be closed the entire week of Thanksgiving, November 23-27. Although Monday and Tuesday of that week were originally scheduled as regular school days, now these two days will be virtual learning days. Teachers will provide educational activities for students via Google Classroom. For those who do not have internet connectivity, paper copies will be provided. 

The idea is to create a 9-day period of social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. We will return to school, in-person on Monday, November 30th. The buildings will be closed during this time with the exception of scheduled athletic events. The school board offices will also be closed, however, you can reach any administrator by email during the break.

I want to encourage everyone to stay home, stay socially distanced, and to stay healthy. Please be part of the solution and make wise decisions when considering interactions with other people and as always, wear a mask. I wish you and your family the best of health and a happy Thanksgiving. 

Quarantine: It's not a school policy. It is a state order.

posted Sep 16, 2020, 1:35 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

Date 9.16.20

 

Dear White County School Community,

 

We are doing everything in our power to ensure the safest environment possible while continually providing education to our students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our top priorities is protecting students, families, and staff, so our school district is following strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health for the management of individuals diagnosed with or exposed to, COVID-19.

 

When we are notified of an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 having been present in a school we, along with our local health department, will immediately begin an investigation to determine who may have been in close contact (within six feet for at least 15 minutes) with that individual.  All who have been identified as close contacts will be notified and instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days from their last contact with that individual or until otherwise advised by the health department. Quarantined individuals are not allowed to return to school or any extracurricular activities until the quarantine period has elapsed.

 

Individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 are to self-isolate at home for ten days from the onset of their symptoms. The individual must be fever-free for 24 hours and have improving symptoms before leaving isolation and returning to school.

 

While COVID-19 does not cause illness in every person who becomes infected, it is highly contagious. If we work together with students, parents, staff, volunteers, and the Tennessee Department of Health, we can avoid closing our schools.

 

Contact [your/your child's] medical provider for guidance if [you develop/your child develops] any of the COVID-19 symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of smell or taste. It is not necessary to obtain a COVID-19 test unless [you develop/your child develops] symptoms of COVID-19.

 

If you have questions about this information, please contact your medical provider, your school, or your local health department.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kurt Dronebarger

Director of Schools

School Returning to 5-Days Per Week/ With Mask Mandate on August 31st, 2020.

posted Aug 23, 2020, 2:41 PM by Kurt Dronebarger   [ updated Aug 23, 2020, 2:44 PM ]

The WCBOE met on 8.23.20 in a specially-called board meeting to discuss school plans as they relate to COVID-19


The board has voted unanimously that all students and staff will return to school 5-days per week, with a mask mandate, beginning Monday, August 31st. Enrollment in the VIP online option will be opened again for a two-week window beginning August 24th.  The handbook for this option is posted on our website at www.whitecoschools.net. Your child’s school will be providing more updated information about this schedule change in the days to come. 


This coming week, August 24th-28th, we will still be on the hybrid schedule and everyone is still encouraged to wear their masks. The new, traditional schedule will begin the following week on Monday the 31st. 


THE WCBOE would like to thank the entire community for their continued patience and support as we navigate this difficult time together. You may contact your child’s school if you have specific questions.

Special-Called School Board Meeting

posted Aug 20, 2020, 7:46 AM by Kurt Dronebarger

The White County Board of Education will hold a special-called meeting on Sunday, August 23rd at 2:00 pm at the Board of Education (576 Hale Street). The only item on the agenda is the school attendance model for students moving forward as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meeting is closed to the public under Governor Lee's executive order, however, the meeting will be recorded in its entirety and posted on the district website (www.whitecoschools.net) within 48 hours. The public may submit questions to the school board ahead of the meeting on their board's webpage at http://www.whitecoschools.net/departments/school-board.

Director's Update 8.11.20

posted Aug 11, 2020, 6:36 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

Hello everyone,

 

The 2020-21 school year has begun and we are doing everything in our power to ensure the safest environment possible while continually providing education to our students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our top priorities is protecting students, families, and staff, so our school district is following strict guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Tennessee Department of Health for the management of individuals diagnosed with, or exposed to, COVID-19.

 

When we are notified of an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID19 having been present in a school we, along with our local health department, will immediately began an investigation to determine who may have been in close contact (within six feet for at least 10 minutes) with that individual.  All who have been identified as close contacts will be notified and instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days from their last contact with that individual. Quarantined individuals are not allowed to return to school until the quarantine period has elapsed.

 

Individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 are to self-isolate at home for ten days from the onset of their symptoms. The individual must be fever-free for 24 hours and have improving symptoms before leaving isolation and returning to school.

 

While COVID-19 does not cause illness in every person who becomes infected, it is highly contagious. If we work together with students, parents, staff, volunteers, and the Tennessee Department of Health, we can avoid closing our schools.

 

Contact your medical provider for guidance if you or a family member develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and loss of smell or taste. It is not necessary to obtain a COVID-19 test unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19.

 

If you have questions about this information, please contact your medical provider, your school or the local health department. 

 

Sincerely,


Kurt Dronebarger

Director of Schools

Update 7.29.20

posted Jul 29, 2020, 11:16 AM by Kurt Dronebarger   [ updated Jul 29, 2020, 11:17 AM ]

Update 7.29.20
This update comes after Governor Lee's announcement on 7.28.20 stating that it is his desire that schools open in-person and remain in session as much as possible. White County submitted our school plan to the state last week and it was approved by the TN Department of Education. Our district will open for the first day of school on August 7th, 2020 and we will still be using the hybrid schedule to start the year (1/2 students on M/ TU and 1/2 students on TH/ FRI). Our plan is to stay on that schedule through August and monitor the COVID-19 cases in the meantime. IF the infection rate is low, then we may consider opening 5 days per week. However, if the infection rate is moderate or high, then we will either continue the hybrid model or retreat to a fully-online method of schooling. In any scenario, White County Schools plan to keep families informed and will attempt to give as much prior notice in the event of a schedule change. If you need assistance as we begin the year, please contact your child's school. Phone calls and emails work best. Please continue to do your part to keep the spread of the Coronavirus under control and thank you for your continued support. 

Director's Update 7.17.20

posted Jul 17, 2020, 2:56 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

Hello everyone,
At this time, White County schools still plan to open on schedule using the hybrid approach as advertised in previous updates. Families will be notified by Wednesday, July 22nd concerning which weekdays their children will attend school. This plan has been approved by the school board and the health department and we feel that currently, it is the best option to provide educational services and still utilize best practices in the interest of public health. 

Students may also apply for an entirely online version of school by completing the online application located on this webpage. Please note, this online option (called the White County Virtual Instruction Program or VIP) will be very rigorous and families must have the technological tools necessary to participate. The online model will also exclude students from participating in extracurricular activities including athletics. The deadline to apply for the VIP model is July 29th and the VIP handbook will be available soon. Notification of acceptance to the VIP will be made by July 31st. General registration information can also be located on the district website's home page and the first full day of school is August 7th. 

Finally, there are many attitudes, beliefs, and opinions out there, but one thing that we can all agree on is the desire to keep our families safe and healthy. Let's continue to work together White County to protect and support each other. That is the quickest road to the normalcy that we all seek. 
Take care.

Director's Update 7.10.20

posted Jul 10, 2020, 12:05 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

White County Schools Reopening Plan for 2020-2021

Updated July 10, 2020


Note from the Director of Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, and according to health officials, it is not going away anytime soon. With this in mind, the White County Board of Education will begin the 2020-21 school year with an alternative schedule that will provide for both in-school and at-home learning opportunities. Although this is not our preference, we do not feel that we can provide a healthy learning environment under a traditional school model and we learned in the Spring that a fully-online education did not work for most families. Therefore, our hybrid approach is the most practical way for us to provide a meaningful and safe education. This schedule is designed to be temporary and if all goes well, we hope to be back to school in full session by September 1st, 2020. We know that this will not be easy for everyone involved and we do understand the challenges this plan may bring, but we are committed to serving students and families reasonably and safely. I ask for your continued patience and support as we enter this “new normal” and may we grant each other grace as we learn together. 

The paragraphs below will provide more specific information concerning various school departments and organizations. This is not a comprehensive list but rather a summary in order to provide initial and essential information to families. The White County Board of Education will continue to update and distribute information on a timely basis as we approach the first, full day of school on August 7th, 2020. Thank you for your input, your involvement, and your cooperation during this trying time. We are truly in this together and will need your assistance in order to be successful. Take care White County, and be well!


Kurt Dronebarger/ Director of White County Schools


Overall Plan

White County Schools will open the 2020-21 school year with a hybrid schedule consisting of at-school and at-home learning. One-half of the students will come to school on Monday and Tuesday of each week. The other half will come on Thursday and Friday of each week. Parents will be notified in mid-July which days your students will attend (all family members will attend on the same days). Parents will need to arrange for childcare on the weekdays when their child will not be in school. On those 3 weekdays that students are not at school, online/ at-home instruction will be provided. The logic behind this plan is to provide some in-person educational opportunities while still observing social distancing and other health protocols. We plan to utilize the “flipped classroom” method in which students mostly watch lessons and videos at home and do more hands-on practice, activities, and experiments at school. This approach will lower the demands on parents and allow teachers to monitor and adjust to student learning. In the days leading up to school, the district will be working through the logistics of the plan and making the necessary arrangements to address specific student and family needs. 


21st Century After School Program

The 21st Century Afterschool Program will be offered again this year at all White County elementary schools and White County Middle School.  The program operates Monday-Thursday until 5:30 pm.  Students are provided with a structured and safe after school option where they receive a snack, academic and homework assistance, enrichment activities, and physical activity. Applications to follow. 


Academics

Teachers are training during the summer to support instruction as we move to the hybrid schedule. Teachers will also be able to support students who may not be able to return to school because of pre-existing health concerns.  Students will be assessed through NWEA MAP testing and other formative assessments (especially in Math and English). Results will be used as a guide in developing lessons for the students to help offset any learning gaps due to the coronavirus shutdown.


Assessment

The MAP test will be given for K-8 students in White County August 17-28. This assessment is very important and we would like parents to encourage students to do their very best. The  MAP scores drive the student’s individual path in Edgenuity (online curriculum) which may be accessed at school or at home. State assessments are still planned for the Spring but details are not finalized. 


Attendance

The Tennessee State Department of Education is still requiring 180 days of instruction and 6.5 hours of schooling per day. Our plan will provide for such and student attendance will be taken (details to be announced later) each day, including days when students are working from home. Note, this may be as simple as turning in the work that was assigned for that day. More TBD. 


Health

White County Schools will apply the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers to our employees and students when potential exposure to a positive COVID-19 case has been determined. Those with positive cases must be quarantined for 14 days before returning to school. Those who were possibly exposed will be contacted but will continue to come to school and be asked to wear a mask for 14 days as long as they remain symptom-free. 


Registration Day is August 5th, 2020

All parents of all returning students should pre-register their children online by using the Skyward Family Portal. If you cannot access your Skyward account, please email your school principal for assistance. In some cases, a paper registration packet may be made available to you. Pre-K and Kindergarten students will be contacted by their teacher and an appointment will be scheduled for your registration. Returning students DO NOT need to attend school on August 5th. This includes upcoming 6th and 9th-grade students. Only new students to White County (other than those mentioned above) should appear at their school (with their guardian) on August 5th, 800-930am for registration. 


Safety & Operations

Students will practice social distancing at school when practical, including at lunch and recess. Body temperatures will be taken of all students and staff each morning and hand washing will be more frequent. Cleaning protocols will be enhanced and other procedures will be altered to mitigate coronavirus concerns. The use of masks will be encouraged especially in hallways and common areas. Those showing signs of illness will be isolated and parents will be called. If any person tests positive for COVID-19, the health department will work with the school to provide the relevant information to those exposed to risk. ESSER/ CARES Act funding has been budgeted to purchase additional cleaning and disinfecting supplies, thermometers, Chromebooks for student use at home (if needed), and subscriptions to online platforms for teachers to record virtual lessons. 


School Nutrition

High School families will need to complete a free and reduced application. All elementary and middle school students will be receiving free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). No application required. Currently, there will not be any free meals on days when students are not physically in school (like the COVID-19 Summer meals). However, we are pursuing this possibility. School Nutrition Program employees are trained on district expectations related to COVID-19 health precautions.


Special Populations

As White County begins taking steps to reopen schools, the Individual Education Placement (IEP) team must keep Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as part of the IEP when making decisions. The IEP team will decide on the needs of each student and provide flexibility as appropriate. The IEP team will need to address student-specific needs arising from the transition back into school buildings, consider if a student has experienced regression of skills and/or lack of progress, and identify additional, new, or different services and accommodations. Parents will be contacted concerning IEP meetings. 


Technology

Online software has been purchased so that teachers will be able to share lessons with students easily. Teachers will be using more technology in the classroom so that students will be more aware of how to access materials from home. Devices have been purchased and may be checked out based on parent survey results. An application for device checkout will be available at the beginning of the school year.


Transportation

Bus transportation will be provided as normal by the school district. Because we can not guarantee social distancing on buses, all bus riders will be REQUIRED to wear a mask. Refusal to wear a mask will result in a loss of bus privileges. Now more than ever, students are reminded of their personal responsibility to behave appropriately. Misbehavior on a bus will not be tolerated and may result in a loss of privileges. Every student will have their temperature checked by school personnel as they enter the buildings. In all cases, parents are responsible for being sure they are not sending sick students to school. 


Updates

There will be much more information to come. Regular updates will be released from the school district via phone calls, the district website www.whitecoschools.net and other media outlets. If you have immediate questions you may contact your child’s school (email is best) or the White County Board of Education (at our new location of 576 Hale Street) by calling 931-836-2229. 


Stay safe, stay healthy and stay in school!


Director's Update 7.5.20

posted Jul 5, 2020, 7:19 PM by Kurt Dronebarger

Happy Independence Day weekend,
The White County Board of Education will meet this week by electronic means to conduct their monthly meeting. One of the main topics will be the district's Reopening Plan. This plan, if approved, will be issued to the public on Friday, July 10th, 2020. At that point, you may wish to contact your child's individual school (email is best) to discuss individual needs or concerns. The recording of the school board meeting will be made available online within 48 hours of the meeting's completion. 

The district would like to thank you again for your patience and cooperation as we navigate this health crisis together. Please continue to do your part to keep your family and those around you safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing all of you in August!
Mr. D

Director's Update 6.28.20

posted Jun 28, 2020, 9:21 AM by Kurt Dronebarger

White County Schools will be publicly releasing back-to-school plans the week of July 6th, 2020. This information will be shared with local media outlets and posted on the district and school websites. This will be a brief summary of our plan and not an exhaustive list of all possible scenarios. We realize that each family has specific needs and concerns and we will be addressing those on a case-by-case basis. Our return to school plan is based on White County parent survey results (attached) that indicate that 64% prefer a traditional return to school with some health precautions in place. Please stay tuned for more details. 

We have moved! The White County Board of Education is now open at our new location, 576 Hale Street, in Sparta. This is the site of the old Findlay Elementary School. The phone number remains the same, 931-836-2229. Please contact us if we can be of assistance. 

Thank you all and be well!

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