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Nashville public school parents will have to choose between in-person or remote learning this fall

Meghan Mangrum, Nashville Tennessean Published 11:20 a.m. CT June 26, 2020 | Updated 2:41 p.m. CT June 26, 2020Metro Nashville Public Schools parents will have to choose between two options for learning this school year: either sending their children back for in-person classes or keeping their children at home and taking classes online.The district is…

, Nashville Tennessean
Published 11:20 a.m. CT June 26, 2020 | Updated 2:41 p.m. CT June 26, 2020

Metro Nashville Public Schools parents will have to choose between two options for learning this school year: either sending their children back for in-person classes or keeping their children at home and taking classes online.

The district is not considering a staggered schedule or hybrid model consisting of both in-person and distance learning for students, spokesperson Sean Braisted said.

Parents, as well as teachers and staff, were notified of their options in an email Friday.

“We want to be respectful and responsive to parent concerns, and so we will be looking at two options for returning to school,” Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said in the email.

“For those families that want to keep their students at home, we will be offering virtual schooling options that will allow students to make academic progress and meet state requirements for daily learning,” she said. “For those families who want their children to go to school, we will be providing personal protective equipment such as masks and sanitizer stations and enforcing social distancing whenever possible to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.”

Families will be expected to stick with their choice for at least the full fall semester so schools can appropriately staff both in-person and virtual programs. 

“Students who choose virtual learning will still be tied to the school they would have attended if they were going in person. In-person extracurricular options, including sports, will still be an option for students who chose a virtual classroom,” according to a district Facebook post Friday.

The district recently surveyed more than 16,700 parents to gauge their interests in three options: in-person classes at school, online remote learning or a hybrid of both, which would include staggering student schedules between learning in the classroom and at home. 

Though the majority of parents said they were comfortable or mostly comfortable with their students returning to campus this August, many also indicated they considered remote learning or a hybrid model as the best option for their children. 

Many families also noted they were interested in a hybrid option such as sending their children to school on specific days or in the mornings versus the afternoons. 

Battle said Tuesday the potential reopening scenarios had evolved and the district was realistically considering two different options for families this fall.

“We will likely have two scenarios in the virtual setting and in the in-person setting for families moving in the fall,” she told the board Tuesday. 

Related: Nashville to buy 90,000 netbooks so MNPS students can learn from home

Battle first laid out a framework for reopening Metro Nashville Public Schools, as well as church, private, independent and charter schools earlier this month. On June 9, she released a 33-page reopening guide based on three different scenarios: returning to school buildings, continuing remote learning and a hybrid of both.

Braisted said the district is not planning to stagger schedules. The district is also preparing for the possibility that all students would need remote learning in the event of increased worry about the coronavirus.

The district has not yet said how it plans to accommodate students with functional needs and those who need additional support, but Battle has appointed a committee, “Supporting All Learners,” to ensure that the district is meeting the needs of all students.

Some parents have also received information from the Metro Schools Department of Exceptional Education notifying them that the department will work with families to review the impact school closures have had on students and “appropriate next steps.”

The digital divide: COVID-19 pandemic made digital learning a ‘critical resource,’ but are schools prepared for fall uncertainties?

“We don’t have all the answers yet. Our teams are hard at work dealing with the logistical and organizational challenges of this new way of providing education, including how parents can sign up, how we will assign teachers, and how students will receive the equipment necessary to participate,” Battle said. 

“We had initially planned on releasing more information about reopening plans the week of July 6th, but I wanted to go ahead and share what we know now so that you can start preparing mentally for these two options and considering as a family which one will be best for your students.”

Meghan Mangrum covers education in Nashville for the USA TODAY NETWORK — Tennessee. Contact her at mmangrum@tennessean.com. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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