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The Johnson County School Board met Thursday to approve their reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year. Officials say it is important to note that all guidelines are subject to change if state or federal requirements mandate certain changes. An overview of the Johnson County School’s approved the health and safety guidelines that can be read below.

  1. All school buildings will be open at 7:30 a.m. to students.
  2. We have no plans to issue a mask mandate for school and/or buses for the upcoming school year. Students and staff may wear a mask if they so desire, but it will not be a requirement. We do encourage masks for those WHO ARE NOT VACCINATED.
  3. We continue to encourage staff and students to be vaccinated but WE ARE NOT REQUIRING VACCINATIONS.
  4. Students will have assigned seats on the bus. There will be no changing of buses at any of our schools.
  5. We ask parents to closely monitor the health condition of their children. PLEASE DON’T SEND CHILDREN TO SCHOOL IF THEY HAVE A FEVER OR ARE EXPERIENCING LEGITIMATE HEALTH CONCERNS.
  6. We are not planning on contact tracing, rather dealing specifically with positive cases. Contact tracing will continue through the Health Department. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IF STUDENTS ARE IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH AN ACTIVE CASE AND HAVE NOT BEEN WEARING MASKS AND/OR HAVE NOT BEEN VACCINATED THEY CAN BE QUARANTINED, Students who test positive will be required to stay at home for a length of time that will be approved by the Health Department. Public Health Officials will contact the families and provide the return back-to-school date for each person.
  7. in class/school club experiences this year
  8. Social distancing of 3 feet is recommended wherever possible.
  9. We will return to eating in the cafeteria as we have done in the past, serving both breakfast and lunch free to all students. However, our food service staff will serve items on line instead of allowing students to reach in and take specific items from the lunch line.
  10. We will allow the students to attend field trips and participate in class/school club experiences this year.
  11. We will not have restrictions on the number of spectators at athletic events this year. Spectators will not be required to wear a mask at athletic events.
  12. We will not require parents/guardians to wear masks when meeting with school officials. However, school officials will wear a mask if parents/guardians request that we do so during a meeting.
  13. We will continue our efforts to sanitize the classrooms, furniture, and buses to keep staff and students safe. We will also continue our efforts to have stuidents maintain safe/healthy hygiene habits such as washing hands, coughing into elbows, not sharing personal items, etc. We are currently installing UV lights in every HVAC unit across the district as an extra health measurement with air filtration.
  14. Standard water fountains will remain closed. Students may bring their own water bottles to school. Students will be able to refill their water bottles at refilling stations.
  15. VIRTUAL LEARNING OPTIONS – Our virtual learning option is our JOCO Online school provided through Pearson. This is a fully accredited online, comprehensive program that requires at least a one semester commitment. Students must be signed up prior to August 24th, 2021. There will not be a virtual option provided by our local teachers as was the case last year.

New cases, active cases, test positivity and hospitalizations have all increased statewide and in the Northeast Region since the beginning of July. That’s information provided by the Johnson County Health Department. Over the seven day period between July 16th and 22nd, Johnson County had a daily case rate of 9.6 cases per 100,000 residents per day, while over the previous 14 day period of July 9th through the 22nd, the daily case rate averaged 1.3 new cases per 100,000 residents per day. The UK variant continues to be the dominant strain identified in Tennessee at the presents, however there has been a significant increase in the identification of the Delta variant. As of July 21st, 29.2 % of Johnson County residents were fully vaccinated for Covid-19. Anyone who is fully vaccinated can resume activities, indoor or outdoor, safely without mask or social distancing. People who are NOT fully vaccinated should continue protective behaviors. Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, wear face masks indoors and maintain social distancing. Continue washing you hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover coughs and sneezes. Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces. The science is clear, if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected from serious illness and hospitalization, and you may start doing the things you stopped doing during the pandemic. Vaccines have proven to be effective against the SARS-CoV-2 variants currently circulating in the country.


Our special person of the week is Judy Walsh. Judy has been involved with the Heritage Hall since 1988 when renovations began and is still there. She enjoys all the things she gets to do there from providing enjoyable entertainment to providing our children a place to perform in front of the home folks. She is also involved in a group who are making cosmetic changes and improvements to Heritage Square such as the benches and landscaping. She was on the United Way Board of Directors for about 20 years and is now serving on the Johnson County Disaster Relief Committee. Judy has been a board member of the Johnson County Library and is a bit of a passionate bookworm. She has a Harley trike and rides as much as she can. Her riding club Iron Mountain Riders, is responsible for the flags displayed on the Courthouse lawn twice a year — Memorial Weekend and Veteran’s Day. The 102 flags represent the men from Johnson County who lost their lives serving so faithfully — from the Spanish American War in 1989 to the most current loss in 2009 – SFC Frederick Green who was killed at Fort Hood by a terrorist. Thank you Judy for your involvement in our community. And for your banking needs go to Elizabethton Federal Savings and Loan from everything from checking to loans. Elizabethton Federal is a member of FDIC and is an equal housing lender.

Have you been to the BLUE PEARL yet? If you haven’t, make plans to stop in today. Located in Mountain City right next to Captain Jim’s, it’s the county’s ONLY truly chic boutique. With an assortment of unique items from clothes to perfumes you’ll be excited that you no longer have to drive way out of town to find the latest trends or a perfume bar where you can design your own unique signature. Take a look at the pictures below for all THE BLUE PEARL has to offer.

For local News tune in to FM 102.9, AM 1390 and streaming at wmctradio.net, at 7:06 am12:06pm and 5:06pm Monday Through Friday

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