Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn announced Aug. 6 the State of Tennessee’s continued efforts to assist families, teachers and districts as the 2020-2021 school year begin.

“As schools begin to reopen amidst unprecedented circumstances, we’re committed to providing Tennessee students, parents and educators the resources they need to ensure children continue to learn and grow,” Lee said.

“We’ll continue to support our students and teachers with these resources so that back to school is a success.”

“The top priority at the department for the new school year is ensuring health and safety in our school communities and high-quality instruction is delivered for every student,” Schwinn added. “Tennessee is leading the way and we are so thankful for the effort, focus and investments to support our schools and students.”

TDOE is providing $15 million in grant funding to districts to purchase WiFi or MiFi devices for their students

The grant application will request districts to identify:

• The number of households without internet access and the method of determining that information (e.g. family surveys, etc.);

• A viable, local solution to meet connectivity needs, such as MiFi devices, and expected cost for devices and services;

• The grant will fund districts at $150 per identified household need, up to $15 million statewide, meaning 100,000 households can benefit from this support;

• The amount is based on state contracted rates for MiFi devices and data coverage for the first semester, after which the funds expire. Districts will plan to pick up data charges for second semester or develop a plan to address them for sustainability.

TDOE is working with partners at TEMA to develop a public dashboard that provides additional information around shipments of materials and plans to make available that information in the coming week.

Best for All Central is Tennessee’s Hub for learning and teaching and is designed to provide school leaders, educators and families with an extensive collection of high-quality, optional resources designed to be easily accessible and searchable.

Free resources include:

• School leader and educator professional development, including professional development for digital teaching;

• An academic standards navigator — linking academic standards information an example assessment items for each grade ... providing this information for the public for the first time in such an easy to understand way;

• Instructional videos to provide weekly content in core areas of instruction, with brand new videos available in addition to all the PBS Teaching Tennessee lessons and companion guides;

• Additional resources released earlier this year including the STEAM Resources Hub, SchoolMealFinder.com and more.

The department will continue to add new resources on a regular basis.

In partnership with Trevecca Nazarene University, the department has created a new resource for families — “Bridging the Distance: Family Remote Learning.”

The online tool is a free resource designed to help families navigate remote learning and better understand the common tools and programs used by educators.

Resources include:

• ‘Remote Learning 101’ training for parents;

• Supports for parents with students who have special needs;

• Videos from parents and teachers around best practices for supporting students in this new environment, and more.

Access this resource at https://remotefamilylearning.com/

The department released a free, optional supplement to support early literacy, TN Foundational Skills Curriculum Supplement, which follows evidenced-based research to build a solid foundation for literacy in pre-K through second grade.

This supplement is completely free, optional and uses a systematic approach to sounds-first instruction to help all students gain the foundational skills necessary to become proficient readers.

Teachers, districts and parents can access and download the materials in the supplement at any time.

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