Williamson County Schools board members express frustrations over district reopening plan

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)

In a Williamson County Schools Board of Education work session Aug. 10, board members shared complaints and feelings of division from families over the school’s reopening plan that went into effect Aug. 7.

District 2 Board Member Dan Cash expressed frustration over the district’s reopening framework, citing an uncertainty over the validity of tracking active case numbers as a metric for allowing students to return to campus. The framework calls for active case numbers to be below 1,192 active cases in the county. As of Aug. 13, Williamson County 1,237 active cases.

However, Superintendent Jason Golden said active case numbers is not the only metric the district is looking at as it decides to reopen. It is also considering overall case trends, hospital capacity and the state’s ability to implement contact tracing in the area.

Additionally, Cash said he has received numerous emails about technology problems students are experiencing, workloads for teachers and parents, and calls for the district to reopen and change the framework.

“We need to go back to school," Cash said. "Any way possible, we need to go back to school. It would lift up the burden on the bandwidth and everything because not everyone would be getting on Zoom classes at the same time. There’s pros and cons to everything. They’re not just complaints. They’re real issues.”

District 8 Board Member Shelia Cleveland said she has also heard from a number of parents, particularly about the enforcement of mask mandates and the stress the pandemic is putting on parents and students.

“People are upset," Cleveland said. "They’re not at their best. They’re scared. They’re stretched to their last nerve and the response and the way people are handling this in not typically what we would normally find with Williamson County families. As a long-term teacher in Williamson County, I’m concerned about kids not being with their peers and not having that time that we used to have in classes. If the parents don’t want their kids to go to school, then we can work something else out. But to take and mandate that the kids don’t go to school or that they’re limited, et cetera and so forth, I think we’ve just got it all wrong.”

District 10 Board Member Eric Welch argued the district should not necessarily make decisions based on the number of complaints received.

“It’s four days old, and there have been some hiccups, [but] it has been extremely successful overall,” Welch said. “But you’re right, if it’s not going well for you, that is the totality of your experience, is how it is with your child. I’ve seen this narrative [that] we’re not listening to parents out there. I would say who is not listening and hearing and taking it to heart and being impacted by it? I don’t think anyone got onto the board of education in general for the money certainly. It’s because we care about community and kids and the system, but what I would challenge is when you start saying say we should be making decisions on how to open a school system during a pandemic based upon what we’re seeing through emails.”

Welch said the decision to reopen needs to follow the district’s framework, which was created with medical and state guidance to help limit the amount of people who could contract coronavirus.

“If we said, ‘we’re going to base our reopening plan on ... a survey, and we’re going to survey all the parents and see what they want to do and whatever that survey says. That’s what we’re going to do.’ That would be terrifying," Welch said. "These plans that we need to do have to be based on science."

Golden said the district has heard from a lot of families who have praised how the district has handled the pandemic and others who have called with individual concerns. However, he said there will not be a plan that will please everyone.

“There are so many factors in this, so many,” Golden said. “And you all know the plan we walked through last month, and we made that commitment two and a half to three weeks ago for the two weeks. What I’m saying is we made that commitment for the two weeks, and we are in the process of evaluating that. This is hard. You’re 100% right. This hard for so many people. Our goal is to sustainably be back on campus and that’s what we’re evaluating.”

District officials said WCS is expected to announced a decision Aug. 14 on whether students will have the option to return to schools or if the district will remain in its medium protocol, with grades 3-12 learning from home.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


AR Workshop Franklin will open at a new location in late September. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
AR Workshop Franklin to reopen in new location

The do-it-yourself workshop offers classes and events where guests make signs, home decor and other crafts. 

Corner Pub will open a new location in Cool Springs. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Corner Pub coming soon to Cool Springs in former Franklin Abbey space

This will be the third Williamson County location for the company.

Franklin Bakehouse is now open in downtown Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Franklin Bakehouse now open on Main Street

The eatery offers a selection of pastries, breads, snacks and grocery items as well as coffee and tea drinks.

Work is underway on a new trail on Hwy. 96 W. in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 road projects to know this month in Franklin, Brentwood

See which road projects are happening in your area.

2021 dates for the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival have been announced. (Courtesy Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival)
2021 dates for Pilgrimage Music Festival announced

A lineup for next year's event has not yet been announced. 

Lipscomb Elementary School was named a 2020 recipient of the National Blue Ribbon School Award. (Courtesy Williamson County Schools)
Lipscomb Elementary named National Blue Ribbon School

According to WCS, this year marks the 13th time a school in the district has received the award. 

Sugar Drop will move to a new location on Franklin Road. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sugar Drop to relocate to Franklin Road

The party and baking supply store offers a selection of decorations, sprinkles, baking pans and accessories as well as ready-made baked goods such as cakes and cookies. 

The site is near the Williamson County Ag Expo Center along Long Lane in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper
Ladd Park residents express concerns over proposed hockey complex near Long Lane in Franklin

Earlier this summer, plans were presented to the public for the new, 25.17-acre Long Lane Sports Complex, set to be located at Long Lane in Franklin.

WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said the district will announce a schedule next week for parents to decide how they want their students to learn next semester. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Williamson County Schools to survey parents on learning preferences for next semester

WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said the district will announce a schedule next week for parents to decide how they want their students to learn next semester.

Communication Director Carol Birdsong and Superintendent Jason Golden discussed the asynchronous pilot program during a livestream event Sept. 22. (Screenshot via YouTube)
Williamson County School testing asynchronous program to give teachers more planning, training time

District officials have said they may schedule more asynchronous days throughout the school year, depending on how the pilot program goes.

Active cases numbers in the county have remained largely stable. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19 cases dip in Williamson County plus more local news

Read the latest news from Williamson County and Franklin Special School District.