HCS’ COVID-19 Response in National Report
Posted on 02/04/2021
HCS’ COVID-19 Response in National ReportChattanooga, Tenn. (Feb. 4, 2021)--- Hamilton County Schools’ community engagement work during COVID-19 was recently highlighted in a national report published by TNTP, a national organization dedicated to ensuring all schools have excellent educators. The report, “Rising Together: How Four Districts are Building Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” examines Hamilton County Schools’ COVID-19 response and recommends its work as an exemplar for districts across the country.

Last summer, Hamilton County Schools was selected as one of four school districts to partner with TNTP to strengthen community engagement strategies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to navigating the trials presented by COVID-19, Hamilton County Schools was dealt another challenge when a devastating tornado struck Hamilton County one month after the district halted in-person instruction. The district was able to activate a community-centered response quickly through the partnerships created by the county’s first-ever Children’s Cabinet, which brings together government agencies and community organizations that serve children in the community.

"The way faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and employers have come alongside our school system to respond to COVID-19’s impact on children and families is inspiring,” said Molly Blankenship, executive director of Chattanooga 2.0. “Our collaborative COVID-19 response will lay the foundation for future partnership and momentum toward meeting the needs of every student both inside and outside of school."

Hamilton County Schools’ COVID-19 response included forming a diverse School Reopening Task Force to develop a district reopening plan, gathering a robust set of resources to support families, launching summer programming to close the learning gap, partnering with EPB and other organizations to ensure all students have access to free internet services, and establishing Virtual Learning Centers through partnerships with groups like Chattanooga 2.0 and United Way.

“Engaging our community has never been more important than it is right now,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “Our families and our community are important partners in our work to educate students, and they have stepped up in a major way over the last 11 months to ensure our students’ needs are being met. We are honored the great partners we have the fortune of working with on a daily basis were highlighted in TNTP’s report.”