Board adopts school re-entry plan

Suzette Lowe
Jackson Newspapers

In a 3-2 vote, the Jackson County Board of Education, adopted a re-entry plan for the upcoming school year.

The approved blended learning plan will have students attending school in person one day a week for the first four weeks of the first semester. The second four weeks will see the attendance increasing to two days a week. The ultimate goal will be for students to attend school five days a week beginning Nov. 2, which is the day before the second semester begins.

Students, when they are in class, will download and be given their work for the rest of the week.

At the special meeting on Aug. 3, board members Bobbi Farrell, Dan Barnette, and Jim Frazier voted in favor, with Steve Chancey and Ben Mize voting against.

The concerns expressed by Chancey and Mize focused on the lack of parental support in many children’s homes. Another issue that was discussed was the difficulty of child-care for families where both parents work outside the home.

All board members were in agreement that the safety of the students and staff was the overriding factor to be considered. With all the protocols that must be followed, it was noted that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for any school to meet those standards.

“The bottom line, even with all the inconveniences and frustrations,” Farrell said, “is the safety of our kids, teachers and support staff.”

The advantage of the plan chosen was the time it gives to monitor the situation.

“We hope that if the situation supports it, we could accelerate the transition to more days,” Farrell said. “That would be ideal but not something we’re counting on being able to do.”

Parents still have the option to register their children for virtual school. Students would be enrolled in Jackson County schools and eligible for all sports and extra-curricular activities they would normally qualify for, along with school nutrition programs.

According to Superintendent Blaine Hess, approximately 450 registrations have been received so far.

“Each of these will have to meet with Jim Mahan, Director of Secondary Education, and our virtual school coordinator,” Hess said. “Parents and students need to fully understand the requirements and expectations of these courses.”

Once school starts, virtual school students will have a 14-calendar day grace period to opt out of the program and attend school under the in-school plan that will be in place. After the 14-day period, no change can occur until the second semester.

“We also have several people opting, for the first time, to home school,” Hess said. “We will be in contact with these parents to explain the virtual school option.”

While certain details still need to be ironed out, the board members said that having a basic plan in place allows them to focus on special situations. Two of the most pressing are special education and vocational classes.

“The individual educational plans (IEP) will determine the added layers of support for our special education students,” Hess said. “For now, students at the Roane-Jackson Technical Center will follow their respective county’s plan. The center’s council will be meeting to discuss further details.”

At the end the meeting, all the board members expressed their awareness that the plan chosen would provide challenges for both students, teachers and parents.

“We all know this isn’t ideal. We all want the kids to be back in school,” Chancey said. “But the absolute focus and concern is safety. And as a board, we are united on that.”

The full re-entry plan can be found at

In other matters, the board approved the following personnel items:

• Resignations: Kristy Chambers, assistant cheerleader coach, Ravenswood High

• Transfers: Kathy Hudson, half-time social studies teacher Ravenswood High to half-time business; Stanley Lewis from bus operator Route 29 to Route 50; Kelly Rake, counselor elementary alternative program to communities in schools student support specialist

• Employments: Dalton J. Burgess, math teacher Ravenswood Middle; Deanna Cunningham, evaluator of early entrance students; Tara Green, substitute teacher; Edwin Staats, substitute bus operator; Jamie Ramsey, assistant volleyball coach Ripley Middle; James Groves, girls track and cross country coach, Ripley Middle; Jesse R. Casto, assistant soccer coach, Ripley High; Thomas Crow, authorized certified coach soccer, tennis, basketball, softball Ravenswood Middle; Jacob R. Gandee, authorized certified coach baseball, Ripley Middle; Lindsay Minardi, counselor Ripley High

The next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug.t 6, at the administrative building.