District Update

APRIL 2, 2020

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PERSPECTIVE from Dr. Winstead

This is our first full week of online teaching and learning with all 5,300 students now connected to their teachers, engaged in learning new material, and working on assignments from their living room, back porch, or other make-shift space that seems part-office and part-classroom. I greatly appreciate the many positive comments from parents who, for the most part, are happy for the structure that comes with school. To all the parents who participated in drive-thru iPad deployment ... I can't THANK YOU enough! We had over 99% participation which is incredible by any measure. As our leadership team always says, "We are blessed." I would say, "Our many blessings include the most awesome parents anywhere."

All of our teachers have posted office hours and would welcome both student and parent questions during those times. You should also have their email for questions or concerns that arise throughout the day - which they will respond to at the earliest possible time. I, too, am available and hope you will reach out to me with questions or concerns that are not addressed in these updates or on our website. The easiest way to reach me is by email at mike.winstead@maryville-schools.org.

As your partner in education, we are committed to making sure you and your children have the information, resources, and instruction to make this year a success, despite the many obstacles we face. Every year, including this one, our mission is to prepare students for the upcoming school year with the skills and knowledge required in a new grade level, a new school, or whatever that next step might be.

I have been asked over the past week or so why Maryville takes a different approach to online or distance learning than many other TN school districts. This response to that question might help explain.

Each school district is at a different place when it comes to the connectivity of its students – the percent of students with access to high-speed internet and the percent of students with access to a device. We are very fortunate in both areas. Through our iReach initiative, we provide all of our students (Kindergarten through 12th grade) with a device (iPad or laptop). We also have great internet coverage throughout our community. Over 90% of our students live in a home with high-speed internet. We have filled in the gaps by deploying hundreds of hotspots to homes without Wi-Fi connectivity.

In many cases, other school systems are not quite there yet with devices and internet for students. That limits their ability to mandate learning when schools are closed. I can say with confidence that very close to 100% of our students have a device AND the ability to connect the device to high-speed internet. That allows us to take the approach we have taken with online learning. We want school to continue. There is still content in every class that students have not covered yet, and those skills are important for the next grade level or course. Teachers have narrowed the focus to those essential items. We want teachers to provide instruction on those items and to assess students’ mastery of the skills and concepts presented. To that end, I feel it is essential the work being completed is graded. While many U.S. schools have been forced to shutdown, we are in the enviable position to give our students the skills necessary to prepare them for next school year and beyond. This is our mission and we feel confident that every parent and guardian shares our passion for every student to be successful.


... IS A TOP PRIORITY. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure our graduates have the ceremony and celebration they deserve. We are not yet in a position to say what it will look like or when it will occur, but please know that we will do everything in our power to honor the Class of 2020 and their many accomplishments. If our original date of May 15 does not work out, we will immediately start searching for a new date during the summer that meets all guidelines for health and safety. Stay tuned for more information on this important subject in the weeks ahead.

Where do we go from here?

THAT is the million-dollar question. We know for sure that we are fully engaged in online learning through April 24th. We will comply with any changes deemed necessary by state or federal officials. Our hope is we can return to our campuses a short time, even a week, to wrap up the year, clean out lockers, take any final exams, and let our seniors have some time together before they graduate.

As you have heard, all extra-curricular activities scheduled between now and May are now canceled. Again, as for graduation ... we are still hoping May 15th works out, but if not, it will be rescheduled.

DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP: A share responsibility

Just as you do, everyone at Maryville City Schools wants to keep your students safe when using school-issued devices. Our computers are equipped with software from SECURLY, and you can use features of that software to further protect your children by keeping you informed.

Parents and guardians of students in grades 4-12 who have not activated the "SECURLY HOME" option, click on THIS LINK to review the step-by-step details. If you need assistance, please open a tech support ticket (details included in this newsletter).

In addition, you may wish to review the digital citizenship tips for families from the team at Common Sense Education. Click below to review these resources.

Need to SMILE about something?

Several of our Sam Houston teachers just couldn't help themselves during iPad deployment last week. You will love it! Click on this beautiful smiling face ---->


Our IT team is working closely with teachers and administrators at the schools to make sure every student household has internet access. We were already serving many (4-12) households with hotspot loaners throughout the school year, but in this online instructional environment, our requests have doubled. If your household is on our list to receive a hotspot, please respond quickly to the email or phone message when it arrives. We are asking families to pick up hotspots, by appointment, at Maryville High School. Thanks so much for your patience as we serve these last few families who need WiFi - taking us very close to 100% connectivity across the district.


We now have a section on the COVID-19 UPDATE page of our district website to address some commonly asked questions. As you know, we are weeding through a great deal of information that changes on a regular basis. Having a central repository of information that is updated as quickly as we can make the changes, should prove to be helpful. Our goal is to offer weekly updates from the district office until students are allowed to return to our campuses. Our FAQ page (linked below) will be a good place to check for new information or changes.

In addition, our district office is now open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8am until noon. Please do not hesitate to call us at (865) 982-7121.

Governor Lee's Safe at Home Order

A few folks have asked about the SAFE AT HOME ORDER and thought we would share those details:

Essential services include:

Educational Institutions. This includes, but is not limited to: public and private pre-K schools, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, providing food or shelter, performing critical research, or performing essential functions,…

As a pre-K-12 institution, Maryville City Schools is continuing distance learning as an essential activity under the safe at home order.


As your children are using their school-issued device (laptop or iPad) at home to complete assignments, technology issues may arise. If so, please use our fantastic team of professionals in IT for support. Simply link from CLASSLINK using the support icon or use this URL link to complete the support request form. https://bitly.com/mcsstudentsupport


As you are probably aware, we are offering free breakfast and lunch to students while our buildings are closed. The attached flyer gives you the details. Remember ... Parents or guardians may pick up student meals when the student is not present. This changed late last week, but some families missed the update. Keep in mind that these free meals are for all children and teens 18 years of age or younger ... so please take advantage of this if it would help your family.

NOTE: In the first week of providing this service, our cafeteria staff served over 6,000 meals to students.