Martin, Tenn. -- Weakley County Director of Schools Randy Frazier, staff and principals met online Thursday to determine the next steps of closing out the 2019-20 academic year, officials stated in a press release. The meeting was in accordance with Governor Bill Lee's recommendation for Tennessee schools to remain closed for the rest of the year.
They group talked about meals, grading, graduation and the gradual return to school facilities. According to the official report, Frazier began by praising principals, teachers and staff who have worked alongside cafeteria staff to provide nearly 100,000 meals since schools closed.
Frazier said that meal distribution will now take place on Tuesdays and Friday, continuing through the summer until school restarts in August.
Next, he reviewed the recent actions of the State Board of Education in their emergency meeting to enact rules related to the COVID-19 closures across the state including:\
Seniors’ required credits reduced from 22 to 20
Mandate for high school grading to follow state uniform grading policy and follow a similar formula statewide for calculating GPA
Districts allowed to determine grading for Kindergarten-8th grade as a local decision.
Frazier said that high school principals and counselors will meet Friday to discuss implications for Seniors' grades. He also asked principals to arrange online meetings with their faculty as soon as possible to discuss grading. Along with that, he requested teachers return in waves soon for grading.
Schools would also need to create a plan by which students can return all materials such as books and computers and receive items they left behind when schools closed March 16, officials say. A process by which report cards can be distributed safely must be on each school’s agenda as well.
“We want to adhere to social distancing and at the same time prepare for the school year to be closed out on the books and in the building,” noted Frazier.
Frazier noted the district is flexible on how to determine a numerical score for grades and offered several options for principals to consider.
“We had nine weeks of instruction in the second semester,” he pointed out. “We could take five of the six weeks and average. Or we could take the first semester and double it and then let the second semester count as only a third."
Frazier said he knows no solution will be good for everyone.
The release states that the state says any student passing prior to March 16 with pass. For seniors who were not on track, efforts will be made to help them meet graduation requirements. Conversations with principals and counselors prior to the meeting showed that only a few seniors are in the area of concern.
Principals will decide by May 1 what graduation will look like. If social distancing guidelines have been adjusted to allow for larger gatherings, May 15 will stand.
The release said Frazier told principals they should now determine how graduation and yearbook vendors will be allowed to distribute ordered items on their campuses.
According to the release, Frazier's greatest concerns were for the upcoming year were the learning engagement of special need population and young readers. Current efforts to keep children engaged in learning without grading their word or requiring it to be turned in will continue.
Teachers will have to assess what standards were covered by the time schools closed and what areas remained will be covered.
“Some of our classes may have covered all standards. Some may have planned to do so in later months. We need a good picture of where we need to start in first weeks of next year. May 1 would be the deadline for teachers to see what the answer is to that,” Frazier said.