Tennessee school districts have been slow to move to remote instruction — even as they’ve announced weeklong closures because of COVID. While a new state policy allows for virtual learning, requests to pivot have to be made for individual schools.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 13 districts have applied to temporarily shift some schools online and 8 were approved. But other school systems have closed without pursuing the state waiver for virtual learning.
“It does not apply for an entire district,” said Jeff Luttrell, the superintendent of Wilson County Schools, which has been shutdown all this week.
“And our numbers determined to us that we needed to shut down our district for a few days, to see if we could kind of stop the spread and allow some people to get healthy,” he added.
Requests for waivers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Each school submits an application, but the state has the final say on whether individual classes or a single grade level gets authorized.
In a press release, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said her department is being selective so the state can preserve in-person learning wherever practical.
Rutherford County Schools had a few buildings approved for a virtual learning pivot this week, but one was denied. School officials said while there were enough students out quarantining, the state decided there were not enough teachers out to warrant a school closure.
But now, Rutherford County school officials have decided to close districtwide on Friday. And Sumner County Schools will be closed all next week. Neither plan to provide remote instruction.