Published Aug. 31, 2021
As we begin our fourth week of the new school year, I want to share some important COVID-19 updates.
We are continuing to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.
Each school is sending communication to their families regarding COVID-19 protocols that are in place this year. We encourage you to read and familiarize yourself with those protocols (see protocols under Attached Files).
The Tennessee Department of Health recommends the use of masks. Even though Gov. Bill Lee has given families the ability to opt out of any mask mandates, we request that teachers, students and school personnel use masks when indoors and physical distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status.
Recent changes in the Tennessee Department of Health guidelines have made it clear that if there is a school exposure to a positive COVID-19 case, but students and staff members are wearing well-fitted masks, they can be excluded from the quarantine requirements. In-person learning is the best way to deliver education to our children.
Sending your child to school with a mask will continue to be a family’s choice, but please know that if there is a school exposure and your child is not wearing a mask, we will follow the Tennessee Department of Health guidelines for quarantine. Cases will need to continue to isolate and household contacts and outside school exposures will still need to quarantine. This quarantine exemption with a mask applies only to in-school exposures.
We ask that families review two important documents from the Tennessee Department of Health (see documents under Attached Files).
The first document will answer many of your questions regarding isolation and quarantine expectations, and the second document – a flow chart – is the department’s Return to School Decision Support Algorithm.
If you have any specific questions, please continue to contact your child’s school nurse.
Information from the Tennessee Department of Health continually changes. When we learn of any new updates, we will post it on our website.
Virtual learning update
Based on current Tennessee State Board of Education rules, entire school districts are not permitted to transition to full remote/virtual instruction.
However, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the following information this week:
• Districts can now apply to switch individual classrooms or schools to virtual learning, but districts as a whole must continue in-person learning.
• Individual schools and classrooms will be allowed to close temporarily, with the Tennessee Department of Education’s permission, when there is no way to reasonably provide in-person instruction. During any closures, affected students will be provided with virtual learning.
• In the application process to move to virtual learning for an individual school and classroom, administrators must document the effects of COVID-19 on entire schools or individual classes.
• The Department of Education will not limit the number of children, classrooms or schools that can be virtual at one time.
• The Department of Education will review applications three times a day.
We will monitor the COVID-19 numbers in each of our schools and make appropriate decisions if we need to transition to virtual learning in individual classrooms or schools.
As always, thank you for your patience and cooperation as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Cathy Beck
Director of Schools