TN Education officials release first of 26 ‘reopening toolkits’

(Tennessee Department of Education press release) Monday, the Tennessee Department of Education has released the first five reopening toolkits in a series of 20+ topic-specific resources to help guide district leaders in local decision-making for school reopening this fall. 

In addition to the Overview Guide for LEAs, which serves as a high-level guidance document to provide broad questions and considerations for local districts, there will be 26 toolkits released over the next two weeks focused on key topics to assist Tennessee’s district and school leaders as they make local reopening plans. 

“These reopening toolkits represent an incredible amount of work done across our districts and the department to gather best practices, recommendations, and information that will help spur critical and creative thinking about how our state—and our nation—navigates a completely new era of education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We hope these toolkits provide our district and school leaders with considerations and guidance as they make the best local decisions for the upcoming school year.” 

The department will continue to update toolkits after release to reflect district practices.  

Today, these are the first five toolkits that are available for districts to utilize: 

  • School Nutrition: By building upon experiences of the spring school closures in 2020, districts should inform strategies on how to ensure continuity of meal services through new and evolving contexts. This toolkit provides an overview for district leaders and local school nutrition directors on strategies and considerations to approach re-opening of schools, exploring alternative nutrition operations, and capturing the best practices from the spring closures. 
  • Transportation: School transportation plays a key role in school operations and the opportunities to support student wellbeing. This toolkit provides an overview of considerations, strategies, and resources to help districts ensure that student transportation continues to play a support role to students in keeping them as safe as possible going to and from school.
  • Special Populations: Just as supporting our special populations during school closure required additional intentionality, such will be the case upon reopening. This toolkit focuses on reopening strategies for continuing educational opportunities and services regarding our special populations, including special education and English learners. 
  • Finance: Faced with economic uncertainties that may impact district budgets, finance directors will need to rethink fiscal strategies, leverage federal grant flexibilities and opportunities, and pursue competitive grants while maintaining strong internal practices on data quality and fiscal controls. This toolkit will provide district leaders with financial-related action items and considerations for the reopening of schools. 
  • Implementation Guide Templates: 

The forthcoming reopening toolkits will also be robust resources to dig deeper into considerations, best practices, and recommendations around additional critical topics. The following toolkits will be released today, according to the state:

  • Technology 
  • Wellbeing & Mental Health 
  • Counseling 
  • Early Childhood 
  • Consolidated Funding 

The reopening toolkits, along with other guidance documents and resources, are available to schools and districts on the Tennessee Department of Education’s reopening guidance webpage: https://www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/update-on-coronavirus/reopening-guidance.html.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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