January 23, 2021

KCS emails show different feedback on reopening plan, communication and metrics

Emails between the Knox County Superintendent and the Board of Education show some support for the plan but also plenty of concerns.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Along with many parents and teachers, reporters had several questions about how the reopening of Knox County Schools unfolded. So 10News requested access to email conversations going back to July 1.

Emails from the very beginning show some board members approving the format of the plan but not everyone. In an email on July 12, one member said they were concerned about cleaning, masks and how exactly social distancing would work in elementary schools.

They added that they spoke with several principals and saw communication suggesting masks wouldn’t be enforced. 

In the email, there was support for those in the planning process and encouragement as board members acknowledged that the decision-making process was a difficult and unprecedented process.

Two days later, more updates in the reopening plan came from the superintendent as well as more feedback from the board. 

In a list of suggestions, one member said, “Masks … require them.” They went on to cite how Hamilton County had done so. 

On July 17 an email from a teacher asks one board member to email the superintendent asking if the system could provide some feedback to parents and teachers with questions.

One person requested information regarding why teachers would be teaching in the building on red days.

On July 20th one member told the superintendent, “We have got to get more information to the public.” They go on to say “I have heard this over and over again … people want communication.”

That same day, another board member emailed the superintendent. 

“Monitoring student attendance makes no sense” the email read. “We are supposed to be there for students-not business, if any part of our plan sacrifices for the good of business we are failing.” 

In parenthesis, it also said “this plan does.” The last line reads “KCS needs to make better choices.”

This dialogue continues to play out as the days inch closer to the start of school with some board members optimistic about the updates others still questioning how the plan would unfold and whether or not it was safe.

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