If all goes according to plan, all eligible Wilson County students in public schools will be back in the classroom by the end of the month.

Most Wilson County Schools elementary students went back to traditional the last week of January. On Friday, WCS Director Donna Wright said middle and high school students would be returning to traditional this month.

In WCS, students in grades sixth through eighth will return to traditional education on Tuesday, followed by high schoolers on Feb. 22. Wright said among the district’s precautions under traditional model would be assigned seating for all students. This will allow staff to quickly identify close contacts should a student be exposed to or become infected with COVID. Also, the district is setting aside the first Monday of March, April and May as days for teachers and administrators to make sure any students that need help are getting it. Students will not be on campus on those days.

Wright said the return to traditional education is important.

“We’ve gotten out of the routine of school,” she said in a video announcement Friday. “There’s something about that routine of school, of daily instruction that we’ve not been able to maintain. The hybrid model has worked well for us, but there’s been a loss of having that daily routine of reinforcement of the instruction every day.”

The Lebanon Special School District plans to return its students to traditional education in phases over the next few weeks, it announced Thursday. The district, which serves students up to eighth grade, has been on a hybrid schedule.

Both Wright and LSSD Director Scott Benson emphasized that the move was dependent on a continued downward trend in COVID-19 cases. In fact, Watertown Elementary School went on remote Friday until Feb. 16.

In a letter to parents, Benson said he was “encouraged by the favorable community trend” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wilson County’s daily case rate has dropped to 36.6, which compares to a rate of 59.5 two weeks ago, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The average rate of positive tests is 14.2, but half what it was early last month.

Beginning Tuesday, prekindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grade students will return the traditional model. If the positive COVID trends continue, then third through fifth grades would return on Feb. 16 and sixth through eighth grades on Feb. 22, according to the letter.

“We will undoubtedly continue to experience cases of COVID-19 and will contact trace and quarantine based on health department guidelines,” Benson said in his letter. “Our team will respond as quickly as possible so that we can minimize the spread and keep students in school for as long as possible. Procedures will remain in place at each school to help ensure the health and safety of our school family. Your commitment to these practices will help us stay in school as well.”

In both districts, those students enrolled in virtual education, which is full-time online, will remain under that system.

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