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No hybrid learning for Tennessee schools next year

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 7:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In Tennessee, hybrid learning will not be an option next school year due to a new rule by the state’s board of education.

The Tennessee State Board of Education is cracking down.

School districts will not be allowed to teach students both in-person and remotely in the next school year.

This means kids who want to stick with learning virtually will have to enroll in virtual schools.

Director of legislative and external affairs with the State Board of Education Nathan James says the rule that is allowing districts to offer hybrid learning will expire May 18.

He also says at this point, there is only one way districts could keep offering hybrid options.

“In the event, this was to happen again and there was a governor’s declared state of emergency or disaster the districts would be able to use these CLP’s just as they have in this last year,” James said.

Both Governor Bill Lee and Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn have pushed for students to get back into the classroom.

Shelby County Schools say:

“As we did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the District will offer the option of Memphis Virtual School (MVS) as part of school choice. Unlike the current LIVE synchronous instruction, the MVS model is centered around asynchronous learning (independent study).”

Collierville School district plans to create a virtual academy.

”We have already submitted an application to the department of education to operate a standalone virtual academy for next year,” said Mario Hogue, Collierville Schools POI.

Hogue says the interest in the academy is high.

“By the time we closed the pre-registration application at the beginning of March we had almost, over 900 applications of individuals that wanted to participate in the virtual academy next year,” said Hogue.

The Lakeland School System plans to return to an all-in-person learning model next school year.

Bartlett City Schools say they continue to “explore the option of offering a virtual school for the 2021-2022 school year. We are evaluating if there is enough interest to warrant this program and how best to serve our students.”

SCS officials say they haven’t recently surveyed parents on whether they prefer virtual or in-person learning.

The district says, “The District’s priority is to ensure a safe learning environment for in-person learning. SCS will follow the guidance of the TDOE regarding instruction for the 2021-22 school year.”

WMC asked the Tennessee Department of Education if districts have to report how many schools in their district will be in-person and how many will be remote. Below is their statement.

“The COVID-19 Informational Dashboard includes information related to instruction model for districts and schools based off district submissions. Districts are requested to submit data on operating model information and student and staff positive cases by 5 p.m. CT on Mondays, after which the dashboard will begin to populate the new information each week. Individual districts can choose which level of information they provide, either at the school level or for the district as a whole.

As of today, nine applications for virtual schools have been submitted with three of those coming from west Tennessee districts. To note, these applications must be approved and the approval process will not begin until after the application deadline has closed.

The department has created a webpage, including an FAQ and the application for virtual schools, which can be found here: https://www.tn.gov/education/school-options/virtual-schools.html. Districts are required to submit an application by June 30.”

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