WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – What will schools look like when August rolls around? Are students going to be going to a classroom every day? There are the questions many administrators are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What if we’re back in and need to wear masks? How long does it truly take to clean and disinfect a building?” asked Jason Golden, Williamson County superintendent.
Officials, like Golden, are planning for an unprecedented school year. One filled with many unknowns.
“We’ve all brought in every area of expertise, and we’ve developed a framework where those questions are being asked. We’re in the process of answering those questions,” said Golden.
COVID-19 has forced a discussion about improvement.
“We’ve learned a lot about what we have to do going forward to be more efficient and effective with online learning,” said David Snowden, Franklin Special School district superintendent.
It’s a task Golden has spent the past few months perfecting, but he acknowledges, the burden it places on parents to teach a traditional 6-hour school day is unsustainable.
“Our hope is that every parent is going to be back from their lay off, right? So, the idea that a child is going to be able to sit there for that long, especially at those younger grades, is not realistic and not good for the child,” said Golden.
The districts have discussed the possibility of staggering school days and reconfiguring group centers within classrooms. They’re attempting to meet learning benchmark requirements, while more pressingly, adhere to CDC guidelines.
“We want students, and staff, to feel as safe as possible when they return to school,” said Snowden.
Every minute of the school day is under review. How many students will be allowed on a bus? How will arrival and dismissals change? Can students safely eat in the cafeteria?
“I don’t think we’re ever going to have normalcy as we once knew normalcy,” said Snowden.
And the way in which the 2020 school year ended isn’t a long-term option moving forward as the state gave districts immense leeway.
“Number one,” Golden explains, “they said no accountability for attendance. Number 2, they waived every class period, every class day. Number three, they established every student’s grade could be no lower than what it was on March 20th. Some of those restrictions can’t exist if we’re going to have a regular school year.”
Until the Governor provides further guidance, administrators will continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
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.