Middle Tennessee school districts balance COVID-19 cautiousness, learning goals

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Most Middle Tennessee school districts are back in class after winter break, some in person, some virtually.

For Dickson County, it is back to school with in-person learning but on a staggered schedule to reduce the number of people inside buildings at one time.

“Half of our students will report to school in a normal week on Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday, for the other group,” said Dr. Danny Weeks, Director of Dickson County Schools. “We are hoping that this environment will help us address what we would anticipate to be an uptick in cases over the Christmas break and over the New Year’s break.”

Kindergarten through third grade students are attending class in person every day.

Weeks said it’s important for that age group not to miss out on learning early foundational skills. Families were also given the option to choose virtual learning.

“We honor those requests from families that chose another option and we respect that, but we believe learning best takes place in the classroom,” Weeks said.

As far as vaccines, Weeks said they won’t be required for teachers and staff, but the district is working with the state in hopes of administering shots to those who choose to get vaccinated.

“Through the use of our family clinic here, we hope that can take some pressure off of our local health department,” Weeks said.

In Wilson County, school is back in session remotely at least through January 15th. County case numbers and possible holiday family gatherings and travel played into the district’s decision.

“Traditionally as we look back at any significant break, if we go back to fall break, Thanksgiving break, which in our district is one full week, if you take a look at those breaks, coming out of those breaks, the numbers have gone up significantly,” said Bart Barker, public information officer for Wilson County Schools.

The district will re-evaluate its plan next week. The district is also working closely with Wilson County on a vaccine plan.

“We want to strongly encourage the consideration for staff to take the vaccination; we know it’s a decision not to be taken lightly,” Barker said.

The Tennessee Department of Health has moved up teachers to Phase 1B, right behind health care workers. It has not been announced yet when COVID-19 vaccinations will start for that phase.

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

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