Nashville education leaders are hoping to mass-test kids for COVID-19 now that Metro Schools has reopened for in-person learning.
The district hired Meharry Medical College to develop a testing and vaccination plan for students and employees in January. Patrick Johnson, a vice president at the college, said at a school board meeting Tuesday that the district’s testing protocol will have the same technology and infrastructure as Nashville’s citywide drive-thru testing centers.
“Those two things combined, I believe, and our experience, will give us the ability to have — and now I’m from Nashville so I’m a little biased — the best protected school system in the nation,” he said.
The initiative won’t keep the virus out of schools, he said, but will help prevent significant spread.
The district began testing a random pool of elementary students this week, but it is unclear how many students have opted to participate in the plan.
Meharry’s contract with the district is worth up to $18 million and expires in June. The district, however, will only be billed for the cost of services provided.
The cost is being covered by federal stimulus funding that was allocated to Tennessee.
Pay raises approved
Separately, the district is also planning to pay out $1,000 in COVID bonuses to staff and teachers.
School officials said the one-time payment will be compensation for all teachers and employees who’ve had to take on extra work during the pandemic.
The bonuses are subject to approval by the Tennessee Department of Education but are expected to be approved in the coming weeks.