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By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Trousdale County Schools are working on ways to continue student instruction in the event of a longer than expected closure.

Schools closed March 17 on the direction of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and as of press time, were to remain closed through March 31 because of concerns over the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the governor recommended that schools remain closed through April 24.

But at last Thursday’s School Board meeting, Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said preparations were under way just in case.

“We’re planning for long-range continuing education in the assumption that we will not come back to school this year,” he told board members.

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Before schools dismissed, students were provided with Individual Learning Modules designed to cover curriculum from March 30 to April 9.

Satterfield reiterated that students are not expected to complete that work immediately and urged them to enjoy their spring break, which would have taken place this week.

“We’re 75 percent through the school year, but we still have those other nine weeks,” he said. “If we don’t do something worthwhile in educating kids, when we come back to school there will be a lot of gaps that will be problematic to students.”

Satterfield said principals and supervisors were working with his office on various options to allow students to turn in those modules, as well as complete future assignments during the unexpected break.

The district is working on allowing students to pick up their Chromebooks from school and work from home. Parents would be required to sign a contract taking responsibility for the computers if they are lost or damaged while being used at home.

“We have a lot of curriculum that’s online now; we have Chromebooks in every classroom grades 6-12,” Satterfield said. “We’re getting ready to send them home.”

For those students who live in areas without broadband Internet, a paper option will be provided. Board members noted that students could conceivably use free Internet options, such as the library’s WiFi, if they do not have Internet at home.

Getting those papers back from students will be a challenge, Satterfield said, and his office is looking at options.

“The thing we will have to work on is how to use our teachers and support staff,” he said.

The school system is also working to complete senior transcripts to assist those headed to college.

If schools do remain canceled, Tennessee legislators have passed a bill to waive the 180-day requirement for a school year, as well as waiving the TNReady testing for 2020.

“That means if we go over our stockpile days, which we most likely are, we don’t have to make those days up,” Satterfield said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]