NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The start of the new school year begins Tuesday for Metro Nashville Public Schools, but this time, students will begin the year online.
Dr. Adrienne Battle, the district’s Director of Schools, announced last month that the district would open the 2020-2021 school year in a virtual setting for all students from August 4 through Labor Day on September 7.
The decision was made “due to the spread and risk of COVID-19 throughout the community,” Dr. Battle explained.
When the pandemic began, Metro Schools launched a Remote Learning 2.0 program to allow students to learn in an online setting with regular check-ins from teachers and staff. The district said the virtual learning program beginning August 4 will differ in several ways from the one instituted in April:
- Assignments will be graded.
- Tests will be given.
- Attendance will be required and tracked.
- Teachers will be required to offer a certain number of hours each week for live classrooms, open office hours, and individualized learning support.
- Curriculum will be consistent across schools and based on a proven virtual school program.
- Schoology will be the platform used by teachers and students to provide access to homework, tests, and lessons that students can access at their own pace (known as asynchronous learning).
- There will be an extensive focus on social-emotional supports for teachers and school staff, who will then support students’ social-emotional and academic needs with regular, personalized check-ins.
- For each child with disabilities, we are developing a COVID-19 Continuous Learning Individualized Plan (CLIP). The CLIP will identify how MNPS will implement the services and supports in your child’s lEP or Section 504 Plan in a virtual setting.
The virtual learning program will be school-based, meaning students will connect with teachers at their school of enrollment, the district said.
Metro Schools prepared up to 44,000 devices in its schools for students to use for remote learning. Additionally, 17,000 hotspots have been ordered and will be offered to families in need of internet access.
When schools do reopen, families will have the option of in-person learning or remaining in the virtual option, according to Dr. Battle. She explained students and staff in the in-person learning environment will see efforts taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19:
- Parents will be asked to check temperatures of students and monitor health symptoms prior to sending them to school.
- Staff will have temperature and symptom checks each morning when entering school.
Students and teachers will be provided masks and will be required to wear them.
- Social distancing measures will be taken to reduce crowding and large groups of students.
- Due to classroom configurations, six feet of distance between desks will not often be feasible, but desks will be spaced as much as possible and facing in one direction.
- Buses will have assigned seats, and students will be limited to two per seat. Drivers will disinfect the seats after morning and afternoon runs.
- Sanitizer stations will be available in schools, and students and staff will be asked to wash their hands at regular intervals.
- Custodial staff will be responsible for wiping down touchpoints in common areas such as doorknobs and cafeterias. Custodians are contractually obligated to wipe down desks and classroom tables each night. Classrooms, during daily usage, will be the responsibility of teachers and/or designated students in the classroom for wiping down desks, seats, and shared classroom materials in-between uses.