The Rutherford County Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night for a return to traditional classes beginning in August. The plan also allows parents to choose remote learning for their students, but they must commit to sticking with that option for the full semester.
Some parents at the meeting stressed the importance of their students returning to a more stable learning environment, despite surging coronavirus cases in the area. Board member Tiffany Johnson says the low number of students who voluntarily participated in remote classes was concerning. Johnson says she understands the plight of families with medically vulnerable children, because she has one herself.
“I’ll do everything that I can to ensure that every single child — as though they were my own — is kept safe,” she says.
But other residents, like special education teacher Emily Williams, urged board members to consider the risks of returning not only for students, but for school staff.
“Parents who do not work in the school system can choose whether or not to physical send their child to school and can opt for online instruction, but I cannot,” Williams says. “I am a teacher. I work in a school. I love my job, my students and my family. I don’t want to have to choose between them.”
The board will consider mask requirements for teachers and students at a special meeting on July 21. The district may also decide to allow for some “phase-in days” to let students adjust to the new guidelines. School is scheduled to begin the week of Aug. 10.