School Reopening FAQ

New Communication from Dr. Wilson:

Submitting Proofs of Residency 

Hamilton County Schools requires all families to submit two proofs of residency each year before the registration process can be completed. All three Signal Mountain schools are asking parents to submit via email two proofs of residency to the schools.  Please submit your proofs to Mrs. Smart at  

These scanned or photographed documents must be in the name of the custodial parent and have an address listed in the Nolan zone. We will review all residencydocumentation before creating class rosters, so this information is due to Nolan by Friday, July 31, 2020. We will not be able to include a child on a class roster until residency is verified and the pre-registration process is completed. 

  • Proof of residency is a current (within the last 60 days) utility bill - electric, gas, water - with the parent's name and address printed onit. 
  • If parents have not been living at the residence long enough to have a utility bill, a contract or lease on a house or apartment will be accepted. 
  • Agency, government, or court documentation will also be accepted. 
  • Out of zone inquiries and appeals may be made by contacting Office of Equity 

Staggered School Start 

We would like to bring children back to campus in smaller groups in order to go over social distancing guidelines and orient them to the classroom and school-wide safety procedures.  Due to COVID-19, we will not have a traditional registration fair on August 7th where the entire student body, PTA, and families assemble. 1st through 5th grade students will be notified of their 2020-2021 teacher assignment by receiving a postcard in the mail no later than August 10th. It is very important that your accurate home address is updated in Power School. Kindergarten parents will be contacted by their assigned classroom teacher following phase-in. 

  • August 12th – Grades 1-5 students with last names A-L 
  • August 13th – Grades 1-5 students with last names M-Z 
  • August 14th – Grades 1-5 students enrolled in HCS At Home (Option 2) 
  • August 17th – Grades 1-5 resume attendance based on district designated phases 
  • Kindergarten phase-in will begin August 17th. More details will follow. Kindergarten families should already be registered for a screening date; however, if you still need to sign up please click

Hamilton County Schools is working to safely reopen schools in August for students and staff and provide choices that will fit the needs of your family. We understand from concerns parents have shared with us that some are not comfortable with sending children back to school at this time.  The district has developed an option for you that is called “HCS at Home” that will allow you and your child to still be connected to Nolan, but learn from home.  Teachers you are familiar with will connect with your child electronically with video lessons and Zoom discussions to keep your child moving forward and learning. Please check back frequently to see the answers to some of your most asked questions.  Feel free to always call the school or email to ask for clarification.

See the HCS reopening plan here.  

Returning Students - please update information in Power School
 – All returning students need to complete this step if you didn’t do it in May. Power School Questions:

New Bus Routes - . All bus routes have been re-drawn. Find your bus number, pick-up time, and drop-off time using the transportation link. 

UPDATED Important August DatesWelcome Back August Dates 2020-2021.pdf 



Frequently asked Questions:

I have received numerous phone calls and emails with questions. We are on this journey together, and it is my heart to share as much information as I have at this point to support you as you select a learning structure for your child this fall.  I hope to provide answers to common questions that have been raised.

Questions about Phases

Have you determined which students will attend on which days if we open in Phase 2? 

Mr. Paulson, Dr. Harwood, and I have aligned our community’s schools (Thrasher, SMMHS & Nolan), so that siblings attend on the same days.  

  • Students with last names A-L: “Group A” will attend Nolan on campus consecutively on Mondays and Tuesdays. Students will participate in virtual learning on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  
  • Students with last names M-Z: “Group B” will attend Nolan on campus consecutively on Thursdays and Fridays.  Students will participate in virtual learning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.   
  • If two children in the same family have different last names, please use the oldest sibling’s last name (that attends Nolan) to determine the day your family attends. 
  • For special programming, we may contact families to ask you to switch cohort groups to best serve your child (i.e. for speech services). 
  • As you can imagine, we have limited ability to accommodate requests to switch days based on preference, convenience, or peer friendships. Please only submit an email to request consideration for a change, if it is absolutely necessary. 

If we opened today, what Phase would we be in?

The best way to answer this is to compare the chart on page 14 of the reopening plan with the daily-updated data presented here: .
If we started school today we would be in Phase 3, which means we would be fully open with safety precautions in place including limiting the transitions that students make throughout the day. However, cases in 37377 jumped from 17 last week to 30 this week. Active numbers may change rapidly. We are trending toward a Phase 2 opening. Hamilton County will make a decision by August 5th.

Will each school determine what phase it is in based on the active COVID cases in each community?

No, HCS determines what phase Nolan is in. The “gating criteria” on page 14 shows how decisions about phases will be made. Phase 3 is the only phase that has school-specific decisions. Phases 1, 2, and 4 will be county-wide phases.

What will Phase 2 look like at Nolan?

If active cases continue to rise within the district, we may need to shift to Phase 2. This hybrid approach means students will be divided into an “A group” and a “B group” so that 50% of students will attend at a time to reduce class sizes.  Students will be responsible for 5 full days of learning, 2 of which are in person at school and 3 of which are completed more flexibly in their home. All learning will be facilitated by the Nolan staff.  Students assigned to the “A group” will attend Nolan on Monday and Tuesday and the students assigned to the “B group” will attend Nolan on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a virtual learning day for all students while the building is sanitized. 

What does “reduced hours” mean?

Phase 2 will have reduced hours for on-campus instruction. In Phase 2, students will be sorted into two cohorts – a Group A and Group B. Each cohort will come to the campus two days per week and have three days of at-home learning directed by the classroom teacher. Arrival and dismissal may also be staggered to manage the social distancing details, and this may also reduce the hours a student has on campus in Phase 2.

Questions about Learning Options 

What if I do not select a learning structure option?  

If you do not select a learning structure option for your child, it will default to Option 1 (school-based, in person as much as allowed). However, it would help us tremendously if every parent made a selection in PowerSchool and indicated their intent for this year before July 22.  If you need to change your learning option, please call the school. 

  • Option 1- Learning Continuum Plan - School Based (occurs at Nolan, in-person as much as allowable depending on Phases 1-4) 
  • Option 2- HCS/Nolan at Home (daily, remote learning facilitated by Nolan teachers) 
  • Option 3- HCS Virtual School (enrolled in HCS Virtual School, self-paced, not associated with Nolan) 

Can I switch from Option 1 to Option 2 during the semester?  

If you choose Option 2- Nolan@Home or Option 3-HC Virtual School, parents are unable to switch to Option 1 until the end of the semester. However, if you choose Option 1, you may switch to Option 2 at any time. It is Nolan’s plan to have dedicated Option 1 and Option 2 homeroom teachers. This will be determined after July 22 when parents make their selections and we can see how many teachers are needed to serve each option. If you switch from Option 1 to Option 2, it is highly probable that your child will be reassigned to a different homeroom teacher.  Please call the school office to change your learning option.

Please explain Option 2: HCS at-Home.

If a parent chooses the “HCS at-Home” option, they opt-in for the semester and would have 5 days of at home learning guided by a Nolan teacher. “HCS at Home” remote learning will be much more structured than what we provided in the spring: attendance will be taken, there will be accountability for work completion and daily scheduled teacher interaction/instruction with students digitally, feedback will be given to students, report cards will be issued for k-5, grades will be provided in 3-5, and there will more common practices and alignment across K-2 and 3-5. Students are expected to engage in school activities from 8:50-3:50 just like the in-person Nolan school day. 

What curriculum will be used for HCS at Home?

HCS at Home is really Nolan at Home for our community. Parents who select Option 2 (HCS at Home) will have children that are enrolled at Nolan, assigned a classroom and teacher, and will engage in the same learning and assignments as their classmates – albeit completely online.

Will online learning look similar to what we saw last spring?

No. For the last quarter of 2019-2020, schools were directed by the state and the district to provide assignments that focused on review, could be completed in a smaller portion of the day, and would not be graded. Also, with school closing so quickly, teachers used what they knew or what students were already familiar with as much as possible. Some used Dropbox, Class Dojo, Edmodo, Google Classroom, some were paper-based only, etc. Any online learning that happens this year will be designed as our regularly scheduled program. Our directive now is that online learning is to be “commensurate” with a full school day. We are working to prepare some unified platforms for families. Due to the differences in children, we may have one platform for K-2 and one for 3-5, or we may have one platform for K-5.

Please explain option 3 virtual school.

If a parent chooses the “HCS Virtual School” option, they unenroll from Nolan and enroll in the Hamilton County virtual school. They would engage in self-paced learning in a virtual setting. Hamilton County Virtual School does use a different curriculum than the schools do, but they address the same state standards. (The 3 Options are shown on p. 22).

What happens if I start school through online learning and change my mind in the middle of the semester?

Hamilton County Schools will not allow families that selected Option 2 or 3 re-entry to Nolan Option 1 until the 2nd semester.

Questions about Safety and Exposure

What happens if my child is sent home with a fever?  

Any child sent home with a fever should remain at home until they are fever-and symptom-free, without the aid of a fever-reducing medicine, for a minimum of 48 hours before returning to school. 


Will masks be required of students?

K-5 students will be required to have a mask. 

Face Masks/Coverings – To alleviate any questions regarding our face mask/covering requirement, the district has shared the following information:

  • To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health recommends people wear cloth face coverings in public settings.  During Phase 2 and Phase 3, all students and staff are required to wear a face covering as specified.
  • A face covering is always required for all students and staff when outside of the classroom in the school building.  The requirement includes K-2 students, although masks are recommended, but not required for them inside the classroom.
  • The only exception is when students and staff are in a well-ventilated space that will accommodate social distancing. To be clear, a typical classroom would not meet these criteria.  A face covering will not be required when outdoors or in a large indoor space such as a gymnasium in which social distancing can be maintained, but it is still recommended.
  • Appropriate accommodations may be provided for students with special needs and staff with documented medical needs that prevent the wearing of a face covering or mask.
  • Each school will provide a safe space and time during the school day for students to remove the face covering if they wish.

Face coverings should:

  • Cover the nose and mouth and be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face to cover the nose and mouth.
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be made of washable materials such as cotton, silk, or linen.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.


Has there been any guidelines set for how they will handle exposures? Deep clean and move on, isolate the class, or does the whole school shut down?

Appendix C (p. 46) in the reopening plan gives details about this. Also, in Phases 2 and 3, schools and classrooms will be “fogged” weekly (pp. 19-20).

The School Reopening Task Force has developed a protocol for schools to follow if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a school building. The guidelines include information about what qualifies as an exposure and the process that will be followed if a school has a positive COVID-19 case.

In addition, the Tennessee Department of Health has developed the resources below for families:

Questions about General Topics

Do you have an update on Supply Boxes purchased from PTA? 

If you ordered a supply box from PTA, they will be delivered the first week of August. If you have selected Option 1, your child’s supply box will be delivered to your child’s classroom. If you selected Option 2 or 3, a PTA representative will contact you to arrange a window of time to pick up your supply box from Nolan.  

When can I pick up the yearbook I ordered?  

Unfortunately, due to COVID 2019-2020 yearbooks have still not arrived from Lifetouch. We do not have an anticipated delivery date, but will send an email to parents when they arrive.    

Is Nolan PTA going to sell masks with the Nolan logo? 

Nolan PTA has chosen not to sell masks. If every child’s mask looked the same, there is a higher probability that masks could accidentally be switched between children.  

Are we going to have before and after school clubs this year?  

Safety is our top priority. The HCS Reopening Schools Task Force has advised to keep students within their homeroom cohort while we are in Phase 2 or 3, so they are exposed to fewer students. Since clubs are comprised of students from many classes, we feel it is best to pause clubs for the first semester and reevaluate in January for second semester. 

Are we going to have School Age Child Care (SACC)? 

There is discussion about providing SACC before, during, and after the school day if we start in phase 2. However, seats will be limited. We expect more information soon. 

Do you happen to know when bus routes / pick-up times will be announced?

Not yet. During July, bus drivers try out the new routes, time them, make notes, make changes, try out the changes, etc. Traditionally, I don’t have access to bus route info until the first week of August.




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