Metro Nashville Public Schools considers offering choice between remote and in-person classes

According to survey results of more than 16,000 elementary, middle and high school parents across the district, most respondents said they are not fully comfortable with in-person learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
According to survey results of more than 16,000 elementary, middle and high school parents across the district, most respondents said they are not fully comfortable with in-person learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

According to survey results of more than 16,000 elementary, middle and high school parents across the district, most respondents said they are not fully comfortable with in-person learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Two weeks after releasing guidelines for three potential scenarios for the fall, Metro Nashville Public Schools officials are closer to finalizing details for the upcoming academic year.

While the district expects to release its final reopening plan July 6, Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said at the June 23 board meeting that the district is considering allowing families to choose between remote and in-person instruction.

“It is clear through further exploration of our options that the type of staggered schedules required to teach all students in person while maintaining social distancing protocols would likely not be possible without significant investments in new teaching staff," Battle said at the meeting. "Even with that, there will still likely be many parents who wouldn’t be comfortable sending their students to class due to COVID-19 concerns. That leads me to the conclusion that we should be offering virtual schooling opportunities to as many families as possible, allowing them to gauge their circumstances and decide how feasible it will be for them to support their child’s education in a remote environment."

According to survey results of more than 16,000 elementary, middle and high school parents across the district, most respondents said they are not fully comfortable with in-person learning. Only 37% of parents said they are comfortable sending their students back to school.

Parents of elementary school students are most comfortable with in-person instruction, according to the survey. Only 23% of elementary school parents said remote learning is the best option for their child, compared to 29% of high school parents.


"I do not have all of the answers today, but we are working to have those questions answered following the Fourth of July holiday to give parents time to consider their options and decide what is best for their students and give us time to implement the staffing, accountability and training plans necessary to pull this off," Battle said. "If enough parents opt for remote learning, then we can reduce pressure on our school environment to better allow for social distancing protocols necessary to protect the health and safety of students and parents."

On June 8, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced that the city is working with MNPS to provide laptops and internet hot spots to thousands of students who do not have access to Wi-Fi in order to help them be able to complete remote learning assignments. Battle said the district will not have access to all 90,000 laptops by the beginning of August and that officials will work to prioritize students who will need laptops for remote learning.

Battle said the district presented the proposed plan at the June 23 meeting in an effort to receive additional feedback from parents and teachers over the next two weeks. The first day of school for MNPS students is scheduled for Aug. 4.

"Our goal will be to keep our students growing and learning as of Aug. 4, which will be a little bit different from the way we ended the school year," Battle said. "The message in August is not if we’re going to resume and continue to grow our students. It’s how we’re going to do that. I think that’s the point of clarity we’re going to echo throughout the city. We will have accountability measures, we will have engagement goals for everyone regardless if you’re in the virtual or face-to-face environment."