NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The second half of the school year is now underway for Metro Nashville Public School students. Metro school leaders said virtual learning was the best way to start this semester because of increased COVID-19 cases.

According to the Metro Health Department, they hope as they get through the Phase 1a2 group of COVID-19 vaccinations and the 75 and older track, Nashville will begin going into group 1b which includes teachers.

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 said 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 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.”

Still, he felt virtual learning was the best way to start the second half of the school year.

Once the district determines it’s safe, students will return to school in phases. But district leaders said virtual learning will be at least through the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

MORE: Metro Schools will start second semester virtually due to rising COVID-19 cases

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