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McAbee discusses Carter County’s first day of school

BY BRITNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
It was a first day of school like no other as Carter County Schools had their first day back to school on Monday, Aug. 17. 
 
Classes were held at 25 percent capacity, having students attend just one day. Additionally, temperature checks were completed, social distancing was implemented and masks were the accessory to be wearing.
 
Tracy McAbee, director of Carter County Schools, said he attended several schools between Monday and Tuesday to see how things were going.
 
Additionally, he spoke with supervisors, like Wayne Sams, who is over buses.
 
“Things went well,” he said. “It seems like a success. We were able to give out devices, show them how to get into our learning management system, Canvas. So really, things went really well.”
 
During last week’s school board workshop, McAbee had expressed interest in having more than one in-person meeting between students and teachers before a virtual switch for schooling. This would remain at 25 percent capacity as it is this week. 
 
“Right now that is still my recommendation, that is still my desire,” he said. “I think at least two visits, especially some of the younger students, to get in and make sure they know how to use devices, is needed.”
 
Despite his current recommendation, however, he is open to what the board will have to say at the next meeting. 
 
“The board may have their own vision of what that needs to look like,” he said. 
 
On the procedures in place during in-person learning, McAbee elaborated on masks.
 
He said the exemptions are medical reasons (forms are needed), younger children perhaps and those who are unable to put a mask on and take it off themselves.
 
“Otherwise, we are requiring, it is not recommended, it is required,” he said. “We voted to follow the Tennessee Department of Health guidelines.”
 
McAbee said he believes following these guidelines is much more doable by having 25 percent capacity than having traditional learning of everyone attending class daily.
 
While preparation for virtual learning continues, McAbee noted the expectation of bumps in the road during these times of uncertainty.
 
“I’m ready to get started on whatever we’re going to do, get some experience with it, let our kids get some experience with it and move forward,” he said. 
 
Despite the hurdles this year brings, McAbee said he hopes to make the most from it and hopes students can learn a lot.
To students and teachers, he expressed gratitude for continued hard work and following guidelines. 
 
“I’m in a mood of gratitude for all the work everyone is doing to have this and keep people safe while we have school,” he said.
 
 The next Carter County School Board meeting will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook Live.