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When Benjamin Concha’s rural East Tennessee school shut down last spring, it felt like the world suddenly stopped.

“My mom didn’t let me go to what ended up being the last day of school,” said Concha, now a ninth-grader in Hamblen County. “Everything just stopped and communication also stopped and I didn’t know what to do… Now, we’re back in person and things are going again.”

Concha was one of five high school students from across the state to join Chalkbeat and The Education Trust in Tennessee this month for a virtual conversation about students’ hopes, fears, and lessons learned as school resumes this fall (go here to read about the Education Trust’s work with these students). This continued a dialogue started in May, when schools across the nation were shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This group of students and their peers are embarking on yet another uncertain time of schooling – as their state is one of the first in the nation to begin reopening campuses. While some students in rural counties are back in a school building, others in Memphis and Nashville — Tennessee’s largest school districts — are settling into another season of online learning.

This article was originally published by Chalkbeat Tennessee. Read the full story.

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