NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Eighty-six thousand Nashville students and their families have a lot of questions about the upcoming school year, but state and local educators say those discussions are happening right now.
For the moment though, it’s the great unknown for students, parents and teachers.
When kids come back is a guess at this point.
“I don’t think on September 15th, we’ll be ready to go,” said Amanda Kail, who heads the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA).
“The hardest pill for everyone to swallow is that schools have to follow behind a long line of decision-makers,” said Metro Nashville School Board member Christiane Buggs.
“As soon as you can legally open them back up, I think you should…we don’t have another day to wait,” said former MNPS board member and current Metro Council member Steve Glover.
They are three voices keenly involved in what Metro Nashville schools may look like when classes resume.
For Kail, who is on leave as a middle school teacher while heading the MNEA, supplies needed to keep schools clean and safe, top her list.
“I think first and foremost there needs to be a real clear plan for how those things will be provided and how we will guarantee the safety of everyone involved,” Kail said.
Teachers often have to buy their own supplies which include the wipes, hand soap, and tissues so key to keeping COVID-19 away from classrooms and the rest of the world.
“Those things are not covered under the money we are given by the state for our supplies,” added Kail.
Some scenarios of what Metro schools might look in the fall come with problems that pre-date COVID-19.
“We need to make sure we are providing access to the internet for students and tools for teachers, but that we are not replacing teachers,” said the MNEA president.
Most educators and parents hope the fall means being back in a classroom rather than online.
“I was a teacher for six years, been in education for over a decade, and I don’t know how to teach online..not yet,” said Metro school board member Christiane Buggs.
Online or distance learning and getting instructions packets from teachers have presented challenges in the two months Metro Nashville students have been at home.
“I had a parent call me and say I have six children. I am working from home, my husband is working from home, we have an iPad laptop and that’s it,” said Buggs.
The school board member shared some of what’s she’s heard professionally from around the country about what classes may look like in the fall. “No testing for next year, that is what I have heard from other states…I have heard where other districts are engaging in an ‘A’ day – ‘B’ day schedule. Half the students come on ‘A’ days, the other half on ‘B’ days.”
And she says some of those schools around the country would not open until January.
That would be way too late for former Metro school board member Steve Glover who is a current Metro Council member. He is “looking for answers” for the date when “schools can legally start back,” and that has not been set yet.
With re-opening classes a safety concern, the councilman addressed the COVID-19 aspect with a personal note. “My grandson starts school this year. He’ll be going to kindergarten. I don’t think his mother and dad have a problem with him going to school — that school.” added Glover.
Its a matter of confidence or concern about each individual school a student attends as tries to go forward in the age of COVID-19.
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.