Metro Nashville Public Schools is making a greater commitment to protect the health of teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the district prepares to transition back to in-person classes.
The district revised an agreement with the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association at a board meeting Tuesday. It will give teachers a greater say in how they operate their classrooms. This includes expanding teacher rights, as well as providing adequate personal protective equipment for educators who need it.
“We’ll be providing accommodations for our staff based on their needs that have already been shared with their school principals,” says Adrienne Battle, the director of Metro Schools. “As we receive additional updates from staff members who have a preference of virtual or in-person we’ll continue to make those accommodations.”
Starting Wednesday, the district is transitioning students attending Genesis Academy and High Roads School of Nashville, special day schools for students with disabilities, back to school buildings. All students with disabilities will be allowed to return to classrooms with face-to-face teacher support by Sept. 23.
Schools leaders are planning to bring more teachers back for in-person instructions in October, starting with educators who teach the district’s youngest learners.
Meanwhile, the district is asking parents to choose between online and in-person classes in a Metro Schools survey by Sept. 15. Families who do not complete the survey will be selected for in-person learning by default. Students who do return to school buildings will be required to wear face masks and follow health and safety protocols.
Families will be required to stick with their decisions for the remainder of the school year — with an option to change their choice in December. The district says, while there is a possibility that educators will be required to deliver both virtual and in-person instructions, the plan is to provide teachers with a sense of consistency.
“There’s potential [that they will have to] depending on the number of students who select in-person versus virtual,” say Battle. “But we’re going to do what we can to ensure that our staff members are either solely virtual or solely in-person.”