With schools shuttered by mandate because of the threat of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, officials at Tennessee’s largest high school in Donelson are scrambling like all others dealing with pending, scheduled graduation services, an unprecedented suspension of end-of -year state testing and simply trying to figure out how the task of educating students will proceed the rest of the year or even into next year.
Robbin Wall is principal at McGavock High School on McGavock Pike. Like others, he has to deal with an ever-changing, fluid situation as the U.S. deals with a massive health crisis.
The latest word from Metro Nashville Public Schools is schools will be closed at least through April 3.
“Things are changing by the minute,” said Wall. “We have no idea if that date will be extended.”
McGavock had its spring break the week of March 9, and last week, Metro Nashville schools were shut down related to COVID-19 concerns.
“We have 2,200 students here [in ninth through 12thgrades],” said Wall. “We are shut down; no one is allowed in the building.”
However, he said the maintenance staff has done a great job of “making sure in the wake of closures they keep the school clean and sterile in the event they reopen April 3.”
He said last week, teachers were able to come in and get whatever supplies, notes and work-related items they needed.
“There’s just a lot out there that is up in the air, and we hope sometime this week we will be given more directives from the director of schools and her team,” said Wall.
And while the Metro system has made online media tools available to students as of late last week, the students who cannot access the tools will not be affected in any way. Also, there are links for free two-month internet access from some providers.
“More needs to be discussed on this because of equity issues we have. Some students may not even have a computer,” Wall said. “We know now our students are at home and safe and we are waiting directives from the state.”
Wall said he understands administrators, teachers and staff at his school will be paid allotted “bad weather days” pay.
“I understand the teachers will continue to be paid until further notice,” he said.
McGavock High School graduation is scheduled for May 16 at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville.
“Up to 500 seniors are scheduled to graduate,” said Wall.
He said the venue was reserved. However, as of Friday, he seemed concerned if things don’t change, the traditional “walking the line” could be in question. However, nothing was officially decided, he emphasized.
“Obviously, things might prevent this,” he said. “We will do what we are asked to do.”
He indicated students will graduate, just not in the usual way. Wall said he hopes the system will soon roll out some directives.
Also, up in the air are ACT and SAT tests that are projected to be administered in June.
Wall said it would remain to be seen, but he appeared to be assured those who might need to earn last-minute credits to graduate would have access.
“I really think this week we will hear a lot more from the state,” he said.