NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The metrics for re-opening Metro Nashville Public schools have not reached levels to let students back into the classroom.
During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle told attendees it all came down to how much the virus is spreading in the community, and she felt optimistic about the improvements in Nashville’s COVID-19 case count.
“We are all looking forward to seeing our students, whose parents chose that option, back into the classroom as soon as conditions allow,” Dr. Battle said. “I am optimistic about the numbers that we’re seeing lately and hope the community will continue to do its part to reduce transmission of the virus so that we can see that happen as soon as possible.”
The school district is using its COVID Risk Score to determine when to start phasing students back into the classroom. It’s a composite score of three metrics that the city is tracking every day. They include the transmission rate, 7-day positivity rate, and the 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents.
District leaders said the score needs to go below 7 to begin phasing in those face-to-face learning opportunities. Right now it’s at an 8 out of 10.
Doctor battle said there would need to be sustained progress over several days before the phasing-in process could be implemented. Once that happens, the district would start by phasing in students with Pre-k through fourth-grade students and those with exceptional needs.
“Just to speak to our prioritization, of course, our exceptional education will continue to receive prioritization just like we did in the fall when we phased them in first in September,” Dr. Battle said. “We also have to acknowledge and recognize that with the current levels we’re experiencing around COVID right now, we’re talking about the most medically vulnerable students as well. We’ve heard from many many parents who also acknowledge that while we would love to be there because of the status of my students and their needs, they opted for remaining virtual.”
One school board member said parents were asking about doing a hybrid model for older students.
“We have considered the hybrid option from the early early days of planning. If everyone recalls when we were working on our original Nashville plan we looked at every single scenario,” said Dr. Battle. “To be truthful and honest with you with regards to the hybrid approach, in a large, urban school district the feasibility is just not there. In addition to that, as you dig into further research around the hybrid models, it is the least favorable model when you’re still focused on your mitigation strategies.”
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.