Wilson County Schools today pushed its start date back two weeks — to Aug. 17 — as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. And, Director Donna Wright said school will start under the hybrid model, with students going to their schools two days a week and studying remotely two days a week.
The Lebanon Special School District announced Friday afternoon that it will be opening on a hybrid model when its classes resume Aug. 10.
Wright said all measurements of the coronavirus disease in Wilson County indicate it’s not safe to start school Aug. 3 and will not be safe in mid-August to have students on campuses five days a week.
While 7-day and 14-day rolling averages of new case dropped a little as of Friday, so did the number of tests, Wright said. That, plus an infection rate of 1.2 (which means that every infected person infects more than one other person, a 14-day average rate of positive tests above 13%, and a 7-day average of more than 25 new daily cases per 100,000 residents, is behind the district’s decision, she said.
Calling it “the wisest and safest course of action as we monitor the progression of this dreadful disease,” Wright said pushing back the start of school and using the hybrid model through Oct. 2 offers the district’s students the best chance of success.
The hybrid model, in both districts, has students on campuses either Tuesdays and Thursdays or Wednesdays and Fridays. The other days of the week, students are supposed to be learning online. Wright said a revised hybrid model for high schools will be discussed at the Monday board meeting, but that it includes students being on campus two days a week. The hybrid models allow for better social distancing and more thorough cleaning of school buildings.
The LSSD cited similar metrics in making its decision to open with the hybrid model.
Wright said every effort would be made to make sure families with multiple children are on campuses the same days, but didn’t guarantee it.
Several board members, and Wright, said they were aware that the hybrid model causes problems for families, primarily in dealing with childcare.
“I understand this pain,” Wright said, “because I’m talking with these parents.”
The board voted 5-2 to change the start date, with Kimberly McGee, who was participating remotely, and Mike Gwaltney voting no.
Wright also announced that parents who chose the virtual learning option have until 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to switch to the hybrid model. No one will be allowed to opt in to the virtual model.
The move to the hybrid model was made by Wright under authority granted her by the board when it approved her reopening plan earlier this month.
Wright also informed the board that Gov. Bill Lee will make a pronouncement regarding schools at 3 p.m. Tuesday. She said she did not know what he was going to say.