Trousdale County Schools will examine the possibility of returning K-8 students to in-person classes four days per week at the end of March.
Director of Schools Clint Satterfield made that announcement to the School Board during its Feb. 18 meeting.
“We could possibly, for grades K-8, return to school in a different model beginning March 29, the week after Spring Break,” Satterfield said.
The school system has started providing COVID-19 vaccines to all staff members who are interested, Satterfield told board members. The state Department of Health announced recently that teachers would be able to receive vaccinations beginning Feb. 22.
“They’ve actually given our teachers a vaccine a week early,” Satterfield said. “All our employees who either wanted a vaccine or was interested in an opportunity, have received their first vaccine.”
At the board’s January meeting, Satterfield had stated 39 teachers had expressed interest in being vaccinated. He told The Vidette the actual number was higher as some staffers had gone outside Trousdale County to be vaccinated or had gone to local providers who have access to the vaccine, such as Hartsville Pharmacy and Trousdale Pharmacy.
Satterfield said that a survey would be sent to parents of K-8 students on March 1, with options to return four days per week (all but Wednesday) or remain with the hybrid model for the rest of the semester.
“For the high school it’s just not going to be advantageous to anyone to change our learning model. We’re only talking about K-8,” he said.
If students do return full time, they will be required to wear masks throughout the school day as social distancing would not be able to be maintained. Currently, masks are only required when entering or exiting the building or in the hallways.
Wednesdays will remain learn-at-home days because virtual students have to be able to come to school to take the TCAP assessments, which are being done by paper & pencil this year. Those students will come to the school facilities on Wednesdays during the testing window.
Parents are urged to make sure their contact information is on file so that they can receive the survey, which will be sent out via text.
“Talk to your friends and make sure your information is accurate with the school office,” board member Jason Sullivan urged parents. “A lot of people have told me they didn’t get the survey last time.
“We’re going to look at that survey heavily in determining what we’re going to do.”
“We are very interested in your input,” added board chairman Johnny Kerr. “We sent out a survey back in the fall and a lot of people said they didn’t get it. We want to alleviate that.”
Satterfield said additional federal relief funding is being aimed at window and ceiling tile replacement at the middle school, and replacing water fountains at all three schools.
Additionally, the school system is looking to use the extra federal funds to add 370 touchpad Chromebooks for students in grades K-2, while also upgrading switches, routers and servers.
“Our schools will be upgraded with the most recent, up-to-date technology so that we can continue, long after COVID is gone, to have each student have a 1-on-1 Chromebook and be doing paperless assignments,” Satterfield said.
“Technology is the future of education… for us to be able to do that at this time is really going to be beneficial to all students in Trousdale County going forward,” Kerr added.
The board also examined its policy regarding homeschooled students who reside in Trousdale County and their ability to participate in interscholastic sports at the middle school. Currently the high school allows such students to try out if they are signed up through the school system, but the middle school has no such policy in place.
Satterfield spoke against making a policy change, saying it could limit JSMS students’ ability to participate in athletics.
JSMS Principal J. Brim McCall called it a possible Pandora’s box, adding holding homeschooled students accountable might present a problem if the policy were changed.
Sullivan said he wanted more time to examine potential concerns of JSMS parents and students.
“I don’t want to squash trying to get that changed… I want to think about it some more,” he said.
No motion was made, but Kerr noted the subject could be brought up again in the future.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or email@example.com.