Nashville’s teachers union is pushing back against the city’s plan to reopen schools in the fall. The union says it’s happy education officials are thinking about the safety of students and employees, but that there wasn’t enough teacher involvement in the planning process.
Teachers say the plan isn’t exactly practical. Some say even the simplest details, like keeping classrooms clean and opening windows where applicable to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, aren’t possible.
“Most of the windows don’t open. My classroom and kindergarten [classrooms] don’t have desks. So how are you going to keep them 6 feet apart? We use tables,” says Natalie Vadas, an exceptional education teacher, who’s transferring to Cora Howe School in East Nashville.
“Where is the sanitization … going to come from? I personally bought my own anti-bacterial soap [during the school year],” she adds.
Metro Nashville Public Schools says the reopening plan was developed by a task force headed by Superintendent Adrienne Battle and Davison County Board of Health Chair Alex Jahangir. It included representatives from Catholic, charter and independent schools — along with a variety of health care and emergency management experts.
Still, Vadas says the plan left her with more questions than it answered.
“When was the last time any of these people were in a classroom?” says Vadas.
Her concerns are echoed by the Metro Nashville Education Association. In an online statement, the union said the recommendations presented by the task force did not “reflect the reality” of the Metro school district.
Meanwhile, the district told WPLN News that they appreciate the concerns of teachers and look forward to working with the union to refine the reopening plan.
“Principals, teachers and support staff are among those on the MNPS working groups to identify specific needs and protocols to ensure the safety of all,” says Sean Braisted, a spokesperson for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
While the current reopening plan provides a broad scope of what can be expected in the fall, the district says it will release more details next month.