TDOE Announces Approval of 29 New Virtual Schools for 2021-22 School Year

Friday, July 16, 2021 | 02:05pm


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


NASHVILLE, 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. “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.” 

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 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.”

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.  

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact