Sumner County parents worried about mandatory in-person exams


SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sumner County parents are scared after the district said all virtual learners must come to school in person to take end of course exams.

“Our 15-year-old son is technically not high risk, but our 11-year-old son is very much high risk. And what we’ve tried to avoid all semester is for our 15-year-old son to bring home COVID-19 to his 11-year-old brother,” Parent Josh Graham told News 2. “Why throw all that away for tests in person that don’t count for anything?”

Graham started a Facebook group called Parents and Learners Expecting Action (PLEA) a couple of months ago, primarily gathering those concerned with Sumner Virtual Academy program Edgenuity.

On top of their concern of the lack of teachers available to help their virtual students, they were also frightened that their children would have to go in-person for End Of Course Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program exams in December.

But this isn’t just a Sumner County in-person exam — it’s mandatory statewide.

The Tennessee Department of Education confirms the EOC TCAP is mandatory per federal law, but they also provided a number of options for schools to help families stay safe, such as waivers and allowing districts the option to take the exams in the spring.

Two weeks ago, Sumner County District Spokesperson Jeremy Johnson told News 2 that parents could request a waiver from their school to be excused.

Graham said his ninth grader’s principal told him to get a medical waiver from their pediatrician, even though that’s not the son that’s high risk.

“We’ve submitted that; we don’t have an answer. I don’t know if we’ll have an answer to that waiver…no matter what we’re not sending him into the building during school hours,” Graham exclaimed.

In terms of consequences for not taking the exam, those part of PLEA say they’ve gotten different responses. Some said they were told it will affect their child’s graduation.

“There’s a big discrepancy on if you don’t come take these end of course examinations it will just simply count as an absence, or you won’t able to graduate when the time comes,” Graham explained.

When News 2 asked the Sumner County School District about this, Johnson replied, “There are no consequences for students if they do not take the test.”

According to TDOE, at least 95 percent of students in a district must take the exams.

The state’s guidance states that students should be eligible to make up the exam in the spring.

As for other nearby districts, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson counties are also holding all exams in-person, emphasizing that all students will be properly social distanced and wear masks.

Wilson County Schools clarified that students who test positive for COVID-19 or have a medical condition can submit waivers to be excused.

Metro Nashville Public Schools opted to postpone the assessments to spring of 2021.

A TDOE spokesperson also said the tests should not affect a student’s graduation and a school board can award credit in an emergency order.

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