A successful summer camp program has encouraged McMinn County Schools officials about the upcoming fall semester as they make plans around the still-lingering COVID-19.
“It went great. We didn’t have any COVID issues at all, in fact I haven’t spoken to another system in the state that has had any problems with their school summer camp program,” MCS Director of Schools Lee Parkison said of the summer camp program. “We had over 600 students that were full time and another 100 to 150 as part time.”
He noted that every school in the McMinn County school system held a summer camp program.
“Teachers just bragged about the students and we got several letters from parents on how much their kids were liking the summer program and I just haven’t heard a negative,” he noted. “It was just great. We are doing this for the next three years and I believe with all my heart that we are going to see those numbers increase next year.”
McMinn County Schools’ first day back this fall will be on Aug. 9 as a short day where students will be let out at 10:30 a.m.
COVID protocols are expected to be loosened this year as well.
“We don’t anticipate at this point wearing masks. Over the last few days the American Pediatric Association asked that masks be worn by every student and every teacher regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. That was a recommendation by them but we have not had any COVID cases in any of our summer programs, so right now we will make masks optional,” Parkison noted. “We will ask our teachers and custodians to follow protocol as far as cleaning and things and use common sense like if we need to space out then we will, but as for now masks will be optional.”
Parkison added that he is looking forward to a “great” school year starting next month.
“We have a lot of things in place, we have a lot of new personnel in place and I am looking for a great school year this year,” he expressed. “I think people are going to be glad. Our teachers, our staff, are going to be glad to have a normal type year. I’m assuming there isn’t going to be any serious COVID effects and I believe people are ready to get back in and get going.”
In addition to the new staff there will be another change this year when compared to last year during the pandemic, as remote learning will no longer be offered.
“It is going to be nice to go without virtual since we are not going to offer virtual except in extreme cases,” he said. “Last year we moved Wednesdays as a virtual day for students, but this time we will be going five days a week. It is going to be nice to have students back in school and I’m sure the students and parents will be glad to have everything go back to normal as well.”