Fall semester future still in flux

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The start of school is just six weeks away and many school districts are still trying to determine what the fall semester will look like.

It’s a task leadership in Nashville has never tackled before. How will they balance students’ education, during a pandemic, that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon?

As president of Meharry Medical College and part of Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 task force, Dr. James Hildreth faces the same daunting tasks.

“The mayor set up a team of individuals who are trying to think this through, but it’s an enormous challenge if you think about it because children, by their very nature, it’s hard to ask them to stay apart and not do the kinds of things that children do,” said Hildreth.

He admits, managing adult students is much easier than primary school.​

“It’s going to be a real challenge to have 20 or 30 kids in a classroom, trying to stay apart from each other, doing the things they need to do to mitigate the virus,” said Hildreth.

Lead by science, Dr. Hildreth said fortunately the majority of children recover quickly from COVID-19 but he warns, “We all know now, they can be vectors to bring the virus home to their families.”

Which is a factor, he believes, caregivers should consider.

“[We need] to make sure that parents are aware of the possibility that their children can be exposed to the virus,” Hildreth explained, “And take the steps necessary to protect the rest of the family.”

While many school districts in Middle Tennessee have yet to announce fall semester plans, Dr. Hildreth said other states have “a lot of places have just decided to make the first-semester virtual, and plan to go back for the second semester.”

In the meantime, Hildreth worries about the continued rise in cases.

“If we don’t have the virus under control by the end of the summer,” he said, “Having schools go back to a normal operation just seems problematic to me.”

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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