Note: This story was updated at 2 p.m. July 24.
Oak Ridge Schools will now have staggered classes for students at its two middle schools and one high school. Those students will now attend classes two days per week and then have online classes the other three days.
Elementary school students will attend classes five days per week.
The new plan was unanimously approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education during a 45-minute special meeting Thursday afternoon.
The plan had been presented to the school board by Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers.
Before the new plan, students who had selected in-person classes had been expected to attend five days per week at all schools.
Under the new plan, class sizes at the middle schools and high school will be reduced by half. Some students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and others will attend on Tuesday and Friday. They will have virtual learning online the other three days.
Borchers said students of elementary school age are the least affected by COVID-19, and elementary schools have half the populations of middle schools and the class sizes are smaller, among other things.
The first day of school is Wednesday, July 29, for some students and Thursday, July 30, for others.
Besides the in-person option, which has been modified, Oak Ridge Schools has also offered an online learning option known as ConnectOR.
The re-opening options and the revisions are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oak Ridge Schools have not had in-person learning since March 13, although there were online classes this spring.
Here is the email sent by Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers after Thursday’s meeting:
Dear Families of Oak Ridge,
Our number one commitment in Oak Ridge Schools is success for every student. An important part of ensuring student success is placing priority status on the health and safety of our staff, students, and community. With that in mind, we reiterate that this will be a year of adjustments.
We have been monitoring trends in COVID-19 cases using the Tennessee Department of Health metrics, and consulting with local experts over the last several days and weeks. In response to current trends in that landscape, we have made the adjustments below to Option 1 of our reopening plan. If you have questions, talk to your principal or vice principal.
Oak Ridge Schools Preschool
Glenwood, Linden, Willow Brook, and Woodland Elementary Schools
The first day of preschool will be Thursday, July 30. The first day of elementary school will be Wednesday, July 29.
Our preschool and elementary schools will be opening with the safety guidelines in place as outlined in Option 1 of the initial reopening plan, with students attending 5 days per week. Data shows that students in this age group are the least affected by the virus. Classes in our elementary schools are self-contained, the population of our elementary schools are roughly half the size of our middle schools, and class sizes are generally smaller than in our secondary schools.
Jefferson and Robertsville Middle Schools
The first day of middle school will be Thursday, July 30. Thursday and Friday will now be full days.
Our middle schools will be implementing a new staggered reopening plan, in which half of the students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half of students will attend classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays. This will reduce our class sizes to half capacity. Students will participate in virtual learning on the three remaining days each week that they do not attend in person on campus.
Oak Ridge High School
The first day of high school will be Wednesday, July 29, and will be an abbreviated day.Thursday and Friday will be full days.
Our high school students will also be implementing a new staggered reopening plan, in which half of the students will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half of students will attend classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays. This will reduce our class sizes to half capacity. On Wednesdays, staff will offer additional face-to-face support as needed. Students will participate in virtual learning on the three remaining days each week that they do not attend in person on campus.We realize that this staggered reopening plan will impact families in various ways, and we also believe the adjustments to Option 1 of our reopening plan will be beneficial to the health and safety of our students and staff as we begin instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.
Administrators from each school will be releasing specific adjustments to their plans in the near future, so we wanted to make families aware that the staggered reopening schedule will begin next week. Please watch our COVID-19 web page for building-specific information about this adjustment to the reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
We will monitor student and staff attendance, substitute teacher fill rates, and health department information to determine if schools need to shift to either virtual learning or having students attend on a regular 5 day a week schedule.
Families Who Selected Option 2 (ConnectOR)
If you would like to make changes to ConnectOR enrollment, complete a form using the appropriate link below or contact your principal or vice principal.
Oak Ridge High School: https://tinyurl.com/ORHSConnectORUnenroll