Rutherford County Schools plan for high school graduations and beyond

Special Reports

COVID-19: Schools Moving Forward

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – James Evans, the Community Relations Coordinator for Rutherford County Schools, is finishing plans for the end of the 2020 school year, but even more taxing, he’s planning for next.

There’s a saying Evans shares that says, “You want to anticipate where the puck is going. Where the problem is. There are multiple pucks and they’re getting thrown in all the time.”

It’s an analogy nearly everyone can relate to thanks to COVID-19 and the uncertainty the virus brings. What’s more certain for Rutherford County Schools, graduation.

“Starting at the end of June, we have graduations that are planned, for now.”

Graduates will social distance across football fields and take their much-deserved walk across the stage. CDC guidelines will dictate how many additional people can attend. “We are planning to livestream all of those events so we have various options for people to participate in one way or another,” said Evans.

As future plans unfold, administrators are hopeful, yet realistic, about what’s next. “We’ve of course started planning for next year and talking about what different scenarios might be. Our plan is to be in school on a traditional basis starting in August. But, of course, that’s going to depend on CDC guidelines.”

If guidelines dictate otherwise, the district may be forced to introduce cyber classrooms. The question then would be whether or not all students have adequate internet access.

“We did a survey last week to find out how many parents feel like they have reliable internet at home. We do have parts of our county that don’t even have broadband service. We had about 16,000 families responded, so that’s about one-third of our families. 91% said they have reliable internet. Another 83% said they had some sort of reliable device they could be used at home. Now we’re looking at how to fill the gaps if that were to become necessary,” explained Evans.

Another obstacle is sanitizing. “That is one of the things we’re discussing, increasing the frequency of how things are cleaned. Also, things like busses, are they cleaned after every run? Those types of things will be different,” said Evans.

Still, with more questions than answers, Evans remains optimistic that, come June, students will get a glimpse of a familiar reality even with new CDC guidelines in place.

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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