Due to soaring county and increased system-wide COVID-19 cases, Metro Nashville Public Schools announced classes will be all-virtual at least through the end of the semester, which ends Dec. 17.
Director of Schools Adrienne Battle announced the plan Nov. 23, a day earlier than she originally planned to reveal the decision.
“Metro Schools will be returning to all-virtual learning following the Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30 through the end of the semester on Dec. 17,” Battle said in a statement to all Metro Schools families and staff.
On Nov. 16, Battle said she was “increasingly uncomfortable with the direction we are heading with the virus.” At that time, she noted a 14-day new case trend with a spike in cases. She said thousands of Metro students were quarantined because of close contact with those who tested positive, as well as 347 positive cases in the system among students and staff between Oct. 11 and Nov. 15.
Battle’s latest announcement said the situation became worse.
“Our transmission rate, new cases per 100,000 residents and seven-day positivity rate are at their highest points in months, and the situation may only be getting worse,” she said. “This is a serious and dramatic public health emergency that requires us all to renew our vigilance and take the safety precautions necessary to keep ourselves, our families, our friends and those we may encounter safe through the wearing of masks, social distancing and avoidance of large – especially indoor – gatherings whenever possible.”
She addressed the challenges this decision will bring to school families. She said the system will do what they can to support families as much as possible and said she hoped employers would do “the responsible thing” and return to remote working when possible.
“For those who don’t, we have worked with YMCA and other approved before, and after-care providers to offer small emergency childcare opportunities,” said Battle.
She detailed further to say students 5-12 and children of Metro Schools employees will have the opportunity to enroll in a cost-free YMCA emergency childcare with verification. It will provide virtual learning support from Nov. 30 through Dec. 30. Previous users will have to re-register. Others must apply.
Already, in September, Metro Schools asked families to fill out a survey to indicate whether they wanted their children to learn in-person or virtually. While that survey’s results were through the remainder of the year, families have the chance to change their response before the start of the second semester in January.
The survey will be open through Dec. 4 if parents want to change their preference. If they don’t, they don’t need to do anything.
The form is at mnps.org/decision-survey. Once it closes, the decisions are final. Battle said she realizes it’s difficult to make a decision when the future is unknown. Additionally, the system will continue to monitor and may remain closed or closed again based on the spread of the virus.
If students attend in-person staring in January, they will be required to wear masks at all times unless eating or socially distanced outside or if there is approved medical consideration, said Battle.
Other protocols will also be mandatory related to keep students at home if they are sick or potential quarantines. If students are allowed into the classroom, there will be phase-ins.
Battle said the district would keep in close contact with families with reminders.