NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Schools will continue to hold all classes in the virtual environment after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday, January 18. A release from MNPS states the decision to continue online classes is due to the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 throughout Nashville and the state of Tennessee.

“All district schools will remain in the virtual setting until the COVID-19 risk score drops below 7. As of Friday, that number – based on Metro’s transmission rate, 7-day average positivity rate and 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents – is at 8.6. The positivity rate and cases per 100,000 residents in particular are both critically high and need to drop significantly to make enough progress in the risk score to safely phase students back into the classroom.”

The update from MNPS also states that for the remainder of the school year, regardless of whether schools are open in person or virtually, no-cost breakfast and lunch meals will be available to all children 18 and under.

The district’s virtual help centers are also open at four MNPS high schools: Glencliff, Maplewood, Overton and Pearl-Cohn. The YMCA is also continuing to operate child care centers at no cost to MNPS families and essential workers.  

Davidson County began phase 1a2 of vaccination efforts Thursday. Starting in the next phase (1b) K-12 teachers and staff will be eligible for the vaccine.

Earlier this month, Metro Coronavirus Task Force Chairman Dr. Alex Jahangir said there were a lot of factors to opening schools and that will be an important one.

“I think schools and getting teachers and staff and so forth, just like any essential worker, front line worker vaccinated, is critical. What makes schools unique is while transmission seems to be less from kids to adults, there’s a lot of interaction with people,” Dr. Jahangir said. “We have been talking with schools. There’s been a lot of discussion about how best to get our teachers and our staff at our schools vaccinated when that becomes available.”

Newly elected school board member John Little told News 2 he’s heard from parents on both sides of the debate about in-person versus virtual learning.

“I think parents are really struggling with their kids at home. They have to work and they’re worrying about ‘while I’m at work is their kid learning? Are they going to hurt themselves? Are they going to start a fire on accident? And so safety is important,” Little said. “There’s other parents who are at risk, who if the kids did go to school and potentially brought back corona, it may affect their health in a way that may be detrimental. So I see it on both sides.”