MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s the first day of school for Wilson County Schools and the district is starting it with a record-breaking year.
For the first time ever, student enrollment surpassed 20,000 students.
Wilson County Schools is also starting the new school year with a few teaching positions open, but the district is really lacking classified personnel such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Many of the people who held the positions had to take a step back due to the pandemic as they were concerned about catching COVID-19.
The pandemic is also to blame for many classroom disruptions, like when students switched from in-person learning to virtual in the past.
The district’s spokesperson Bart Barker said for the first time in forever they’re starting a new school year kind of normal.
There will be fewer COVID-19-related restrictions this school year as the district hopes to put the focus back on education. The district is also taking time this year to let their teachers know they’re important and the community stands behind them.
“We have developed a culture here over the years that this is a place that puts a premium on education. We know the importance of taking a child and educating them through our K through 12 system, getting them prepared for whatever is next in their life — the workforce immediately after high school or college.” Barker explained.
Masks will be optional across the district, however, teachers may have their own classroom rules.
Also, cafeteria meal prices have gone up by 75 cents at all grade levels.
For the past two years, the Department of Agriculture provided free meals for all students regardless of income and it ended this summer for most school districts.
Wilson County Schools has gone back to how things were prior to the pandemic. So, if your family qualifies for free or reduced lunch, you must submit an application as soon as possible.
This school year’s increase is the first one in four years and Barker said inflation is to blame.
“I think over the past few years, maybe there's been some translation loss. The fact that well, if everybody's getting free meals, maybe we don't have to submit our application. Things have changed and that program is no more that's from the federal level. If you are a family who has relied on free or reduced in the past pre-pandemic, it's very important that you submit that free and reduced form,” Barker said.
Barker added that though this school year will be more of a normal one, one thing COVID-19 taught them was to be prepared for anything.