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Tennessee Department of Education reports approval of 29 New Virtual Schools for 2021-22 School Year

Tennessee Department of EducationNashville, TN – Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the approval of 29 new virtual schools for the 2021-22 school year, bringing the total number of virtual schools operating across the state to fifty-seven.

“As we head into the new school year, educators and school and district leaders throughout the state are focused on ensuring student achievement and serving the needs of all students in their communities,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. 

Total of 57 Virtual Schools Operating in Tennessee; Building Off 2011 Legislation
Total of 57 Virtual Schools Operating in Tennessee; Building Off 2011 Legislation

“Last school year, districts responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing additional operating models and learning formats to ensure that families had options and students could continue learning with their classmates and teachers when out of school buildings. While research shows that students benefit most from in-person classroom instruction, districts are ensuring families who prefer a virtual education setting for their students have those options and can continue to make the best choices for their children,” Schwinn stated.

Beginning in 2011, the Tennessee Virtual Public Schools Act was passed and allowed local education agencies to create virtual schools to offer an alternative mode of instruction for students.

Due to COVID-19 Coronavirus disruptions during the 2020-21 school year, in June 2020 the Tennessee State Board of Education promulgated an emergency rule to require school districts and public charter schools to develop Continuous Learning Plans (CLPs) that addressed how they would continue to provide instruction in a fully virtual environment. 

By the end of the 2020-2021 school year, all Tennessee offered in-person learning options, and in April 2021 the State Board passed a permanent rule which limits the ability for districts and public charter schools to utilize a CLP to provide remote instruction in the upcoming 2021-22 school year unless the Governor declares a state of emergency and the commissioner of education grants permission. 

As a result, families desiring that their students continue to receive a significant portion of their instruction remotely must enroll their students in a virtual school.

For the 2021-22 school year, applications came from districts throughout the state working to implement a variety of instructional delivery modes that work best for the students, families and communities they serve. 

The 29 Tennessee newly approved virtual schools for the 2021-22 school year are as follows:


School District  School Name  Grades 
Anderson County Schools  Anderson County Innovation Academy  3-12 
Bedford County Schools  Bedford County Virtual School  3-8 
Bristol Tennessee City Schools  Tennessee Online Public School at Bristol  K-5 
Campbell County Schools  North Cumberland Online School  6-12 
Cheatham County Schools  Cheatham County Virtual Academy  9-12 
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System  CMCSS K-12 Virtual School  K-12 
Coffee County Schools  Coffee County Virtual Academy  6-12 
Collierville Schools  Collierville Virtual Academy  3-12 
Dickson County Schools  Dickson County Distance Learning Academy  4-12 
Germantown Municipal School District  Germantown Online Academy of Learning  6-12 
Greene County Schools  Greene Online Academy of Learning  K-12 
Greeneville City Schools  Tennessee Online Public School at Greeneville  K-12 
Hawkins County Schools  Hawkins County Virtual Academy  K-12 
Haywood County Schools  Haywood County Virtual Academy  K-8 
Jackson-Madison County School System  Jackson Academic STEAM Academy  K-12 
Jefferson County Schools  Jefferson Virtual Academy  1-12 
Johnson City Schools  Johnson City Virtual Academy  5-12 
Knox County Schools  KCS Virtual Elementary School  1-5 
Knox County Schools  KCS Virtual Middle School  6-8 
Knox County Schools  KCS Virtual High School  9-12 
Lenoir City Schools  The iLearn Institute at Lenoir City Schools  K-12 
Lincoln County Schools  Lincoln Central Virtual Academy  K-12 
Marion County Schools  Marion Virtual Elementary School  K-5 
Sevier County School System  Sevier County Virtual Academy  K-12 
Sullivan County Schools  Sullivan County Virtual Learning Academy  6-12 
Tullahoma City Schools  Tullahoma Virtual Academy  9-12 
Warren County Schools  Warren Connect  3-12 
Williamson County Schools  WCS Online K-8  K-8 
Williamson County Schools  WCS Online 9-12  9-12 


Additionally, Houston County Schools’ application to create the Houston Virtual Academy serving grades 6-12 is pending and under review.



In addition to these approvals, grade changes were approved for nine existing virtual schools, as indicated below: 


School District  School Name  Grades 
Bristol Tennessee City Schools  Tennessee Online Public School  6-8*, 9-12 
Davidson County Schools  MNPS Virtual School  4*, 5-12 
Hickman County Schools  Hickman Learning Academy  3-5*, 6-12 
Marion County Schools  Marion Virtual High School  6-8*, 9-12 
Polk County Schools  Polk Innovative Learning Academy  K-11, 12* 
Rutherford County Schools  Rutherford County Virtual Academy  3-5*, 6-12 
Shelby County Schools  Memphis Virtual School  6-8*, 9-12 
Washington County Schools  Tennessee Virtual Learning Academy  6-8*, 9-12 
Wilson County Schools  Barry Tatum Virtual Learning Academy  K-3†, 4-12 

* Denotes grade addition to already established virtual school for 2021-22 school year. 

† Denotes grade removal for 2021-22 school year. 



“Bristol Tennessee City Schools has recognized the importance of a quality virtual learning option for families since Tennessee Online Public School (TOPS) launched in 2012,” said Dr. Annette Tudor, Director of Schools, Bristol City Schools. 

“The flexible schedule and learning environment of our local virtual school is designed to meet the needs of all learners—those whose extracurricular interests may not allow for a traditional school schedule, as well as those whose learning needs, may not be suitable to a traditional classroom environment. Our virtual school prepares students for college or career with challenging and engaging coursework, all taught by certified Tennessee teachers and all tuition-free,” Tudor stated.

To open a virtual school, a school district is required to complete and submit annually by June 1 a Program and School Authorization Form. Upon receipt, the department reviews each submission to ensure all required materials have been provided and that the proposed virtual school complies with applicable laws and regulations.

For more information about Tennessee’s Virtual Schools, visit this webpage or read the 2019-2020 Virtual Schools Report


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