NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) — As Nashville’s hospitals fill up, their public schools remain empty.
That’s because all Metro Nashville Public School students are learning remotely for the rest of this semester.
The district made that decision just before Thanksgiving break, citing the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the community. Only some elementary-aged students were back in school at the time.
The district then asked parents to fill out an online survey, which closed December 4th, to select if they would like their child to attend in-person learning or continue online learning in 2021.
But some families are worried the in-person learning option won’t actually be available when the spring semester starts. So they gathered outside the MNPS school board building Sunday afternoon to advocate for traditional education.
MNPS School Board member Fran Bush (District 6), who represents south Nashville, also attended the rally.
“If this city is open, then why aren’t our schools open,” Bush said.
The only other MNPS board member present at the rally was the recently appointed John Little. He represents District 4. The mother of a disabled MNPS student called the board’s leadership “poor.”
“They have failed these children; they have failed my child,” Bernadette Minyard said. “Attitude reflects leadership, and right now I have a serious attitude.”
“It’s hard to measure happiness, but I can tell you that when the kids were in the buildings, it was noticeable,” MNPS employee and father Jim Paxton said.
Hillsboro High senior Dan Bush hasn’t physically been to school for nine months and says the absence is taking a toll on his mental health and social life.
“I’m waking up. I’m logging onto class. I’m doing the work. But where’s the learning? Where’s the student interaction?” Bush said.
On Monday, New York City public schools, one of the largest districts in the country, begins their phased re-opening for students in grades 5 and below. Some Metro students are asking why Nashville can’t do the same.
“The population of New York is 7 times greater than Nashville. So if New York city can open up, then why can’t Nashville,” student Bryan Hagan said.
Board member Bush says she hopes her colleagues can listen to what these parents have to say.
“We’re not pitting parents against teachers and teachers against parents. What we’re saying right now is that we want to work together so we can make this work for our kids,” Bush said.
The MNPS spring semester starts January 7. Some students created an online petition advocating for in-person learning which you can find by clicking here.
News 2 digs deeper into how schools are moving forward safely for the new academic year. See how other districts around Middle Tennessee are handling everything from classroom concerns to the future of sports in our special series. Click here to see more.