The first few days of school in Trousdale County have “exceeded expectations,” according to Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.

The Vidette sat down with Satterfield on Monday to discuss how the opening of the 2020-21 school year went. Trousdale County Schools are using a blended model utilizing both in-person and online classes. Students attend school two days a week and learn from home three, although elementary students had the opportunity to sign up to attend Wednesdays as well.

“Our first two days, Thursday and Friday, exceeded expectations,” Satterfield said. Our faculty, our principals, our students, it’s apparent that we can do the social distancing except for if they’re on a bus.”

Busing has not been an issue thus far, with some drivers reporting less than 10 students on a route. Bus routes were published last week on tcschools.org to allow parents to estimate when their kids needed to be at a bus stop. Students are required to wear masks on the bus and are being seated two to a seat if needed.

“That’s not going to be a huge issue. We expect more students to show up on buses this week,” Satterfield said.

Students are required to wear masks as they enter/exit the building and during classroom transitions, which are being limited as well. Satterfield said in many cases, principals are transitioning a few rooms at a time rather than having students enter the hall en masse.

Satterfield said there had been no issues with students coming without masks or declining to wear them. Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that the state would be sending personal protective equipment to all schools, including hand sanitizer and masks.

“One thing that’s really important: our health protocols create a healthy, safe workplace,” the director added. “I think our teachers see the staggered days, the commitment to social distancing, the wearing of masks and the health protocols we’ve put in.”

Students are being fed breakfast and lunch in classrooms and are either having temperatures checked daily (TCES) or answering health questions (JSMS/TCHS) to try to ensure COVID-19 is kept out of schools as much as possible. Each school now has its own nurse, who monitors health information on a daily basis.

“We want to keep reminding our parents: don’t send sick kids to schools,” Satterfield said. “If we identify them, we’re sending them back home quick. The idea is to stay in school.”

Beginning this week, students were to begin bringing home meals for the days they are learning from home. The school system has received a USDA waiver permitting food to be sent home on Fridays as well.

Chromebooks were distributed last week to students at the middle and high schools to allow them to work from home when not at school. Elementary students in grades 3-5 will be getting Chromebooks at a later date.

Trousdale’s hybrid model of education is designed to allow for the return to normal scheduling if the COVID-19 situation improves, or move to entirely online learning if matters worsen. Having Chromebooks also will allow students who might contract COVID the opportunity to continue learning from home while quarantined, Satterfield added.

“Distance learning; you just don’t turn that switch on overnight,” he said. “We’re training our teachers and our students, which allows for a good practice environment.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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