Nashville mayor responds to concerns about COVID-19 in schools

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville Mayor John Cooper responded to emotional pleas by Metro Schools teachers about the handling of COVID-19 in schools. The district recently announced 37 new cases in students.

Metro Nashville Public Schools also shared its COVID-19 report for the week of Nov. 2 through Nov. 8. It showed 214 staff quarantined or isolated with 52 confirmed positive COVID cases. The report also said 770 students were quarantined or isolated with 37 confirmed positive cases.

Mayor Cooper said outbreaks and quarantines are to be expected but as far as transmission inside the school buildings, that does not seem to be happening in a widespread capacity.

“There is a lot of transmission going on in the community and after hours, but I think we share the teachers and parents deep concern about the safety, but right now we have not detected children in school as being the source of that concern,” the mayor said.

He added that this does point to the importance of contact tracing and making sure it’s done effectively.

Teachers in Nashville shared stories from inside their classrooms about educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic during Tuesday’s Metro Nashville Public Schools Board of Education meeting.

“Question is why should a teacher have to choose between losing our job, our health, our lives or what we know is best for kids? I beg you tonight to create a win-win situation for all of us. Whether it be spacing, cleaning, or planning, when it comes to the virus, we have to win every time. The virus only has to win once, right now we are losing,” said Andrew Jackson Elementary School Physical Education Teacher Susan Floyd.

Gower Elementary School teacher Susan Saar was emotional as she told the board why she supported in-person learning.

“I’m not on the outside of having concerns for loved ones. I have a daughter with an auto immune and a sick mother and it affects me,” said Saar. “But it’s taught me adversity whips you in the face, but you should love life and you should not stop and I will not blame you if I get the flu and I will not blame you if I get COVID. But I’m here to do a job you hired me for and it’s going well. I love my kids. I’m sorry I’m a little emotional. But thank you and think of them independently because my kids need me and I need them.”

Teachers also expressed concerns over their own health and that of their families when teaching in-person.

“I cannot protect my students myself and my family while I am in the classroom. I walk an exhausting fine line every day of wanting so badly to be with my students but also don’t feel like I should have to sacrifice my life or anyone I love to do so,” Baker added. “What you are asking us to do as a district is inconceivable. How do you, as a district, create guidelines for reopening and completely ignore the guidelines set forth? This is not healthy. This is not OK, I’m asking you to please hear me, hear us, we are in the classrooms, we know what happens daily.”

Dr. Battle previously stated that the district was working to address the needs of teachers.

“I appreciate our working relationship with the MNEA and the teachers they represent. We worked closely with MNEA to identify PPE needs for employees and to provide those items to each staff member,” Dr. Battle stated. “We paused the phase-in process for bringing back students in Middle School due to increased spread of COVID-19 in the community, and will continue working with the Health Department, which oversees our school nurse program and contact tracing, to monitor cases in our school to determine whether transmission is occurring inside of our buildings to ensure a safe working and learning environment.”

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.

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