Bearden administrators tackle both curriculum, facilities challenges posed by Covid-19

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Mr. Donald Balcom takes a student's temperature before school.

Cross Fuller, Staff Writer

Covid-19 has brought its fair share of challenges this year, and one of the largest impacts on the country was its effects on school systems and public education.

Bearden is a testament to these changes, and the school administration has faced these hardships head-on to allow the students to come back to school as safely as possible. 

This year, Bearden and Knox County have gone from all face-to-face instruction to a blended system of in-person and virtual schooling. Bearden was prepared in two facets: previously being a one-to-one school and also having an outstanding administration staff that made the transition to a blended system work smoothly. 

The process of maintaining both in-person and virtual schooling began with the leaders of Bearden making decisions that ultimately affect all students and the community.  Bearden principal Mrs. Debbie Sayers’s main focus was to address teachers and the school curriculum.

The district stated that any course without a national test could not continue to give their students any new material at the end of the last year. To address this, Mrs. Sayers and her staff made sure that the teachers labeled the standards covered and missed to pass on to the next teachers in the chain of curriculum. 

“If I was a geometry teacher, we would meet a geometry PLC [Professional Learning Community], and we would decide what are those 20 to 25 standards, and identify the standards that we didn’t get to,” Mrs. Sayers said. “Then, we would give those standards to Algebra 2.” 

With Mrs. Sayers focusing on teachers, assistant principal Mr. Donald Balcom saw the situation from a different lens, and instead concentrated on another aspect of Bearden. 

“Getting the facilities from the administrative standpoint was difficult because we only had a limited amount of time together on top of all the other administrative duties you typically have to do,” Mr. Balcom said.

The process that was undergone to get Bearden’s facilities ready for the students to come back included putting up posters regarding Covid-19 safety, creating a hallway traffic pattern including the roundabout in The Pit, organizing the temp-check machines and their placements, and creating and implementing the infirmary.

Assistant principal Mrs. Candace Greer felt another challenge that was brought upon due to the unprecedented circumstances was the absence of the students after Knox County schools’ closures. 

“Educators typically will say that they are called to their profession, and you really have to want to do this,” Mrs. Greer said. “So when we shut down school, not seeing [students] everyday was a challenge.” 

Administration and teachers felt that the abrupt ending to the 2019-2020 year was not only hard in terms of students receiving necessary education, but also dealing with the prolonged absence of students within the building. 

The Bearden administration’s perseverance through this unprecedented time worked to ensure that staff and students would be able to attain the best education possible.                                       

“When you try something and see that it actually makes it easier for students to learn, or it helps your students do better, or perform better [it] is very motivating and affirming that the time you have spent to do that is well worth it,” Mrs. Sayers said.