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TCSS approves making two upcoming Mondays virtual days for all students

During Thursday night’s meeting, the Troup County School Board voted to make two upcoming Mondays virtual days for all students.

The board said the two virtual Mondays, Sept. 28 and Nov. 2, will give teachers a chance to catch up and complete additional training after starting the school year adjusting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several board members said they had heard from parents after it was first discussed during Monday night’s work session.

“It’s not a decision we make lightly,” said Board Member Joe Franklin. “We are well aware [this decision] can cause some scheduling issues.”

Superintendent Brian Shumate said the conversation about creating two virtual days started with high school teachers who were teaching “blended” classes, meaning instructing students who are virtual and in-person at the same time.

However, he said he’s heard from teachers from all levels about how beneficial the two days would be.

“When I heard from teachers, it was please give us those days. When I heard from parents, it was ‘this creates a hardship,'” said Board Member Cathy Hunt, who said she spoke to many parents this week.

Hunt said once she explained the reason for the two virtual days, most understood that this was something that teachers really needed.

“I think there was an idea it was going to be every Monday. Just to clarify, this is two days. I don’t know where that [rumor] originated,” said Board Member Brandon Brooks.

Brooks said he’s sensitive to the parents, but noted that Canvas, TCSS’ learning management system, takes time to learn.

“I don’t this Canvas thing is as easy as the general public thinks it is,” Brooks said.

During the two new two virtual learning days, teachers will assign asynchronous learning activities for students to complete at home, while teachers will work on-site to develop additional digital learning activities and become more proficient in the use of Canvas.

Since the start of the school year, TCSS has seen an increase in enrollment in the Troup County Virtual Academy, and about 40 percent of students are currently taking classes virtually.

All of the change has created issues as schools tried to finalize master schedules, Shumate said.

That number will go down in the coming weeks, as TCSS is currently allowing students to reverse course and go from virtual to in-person instruction, but must fill out paperwork by Sept. 25. Shumate said Thursday that 867 students have decided to return to the classroom with over a week to go before the deadline.

The school system also announced last week that it was making Sept. 25 the final day students could choose to go from in-person instruction to virtual.