MNPS Board discusses COVID-19 metrics, plan to return to in-person learning

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Posted at 2:59 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 13:47:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Parents are raising questions about the COVID-19 metrics and analysis used by Metro Nashville Public School officials to determine if and when students will return to the classroom.

Discussion of reopening schools has continued to be a tense topic among MNPS School Board members for the past few months.

"However, hear me say we will prioritize a transition that accounts for a safe and timely phase-in," said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Schools.

Battle said it comes down to what is safe and effective when it comes to kids returning to the classroom. The Metro Nashville Public School board met virtually for its monthly school board meeting.

Many parents and staff were hoping this would be the meeting when the board decides if students continue to learn virtually or inside the classrooms. Battle said the decision to open schools is based on the Nashville COVID-19 metrics and daily count.

"I am optimistic about the numbers we're seeing lately, and they hope the community will continue to do its part to reduce transmission of the virus so we can that happen as soon as possible," Battle said.

She says currently, the risk score sits at an 8 out of 10, Friday it was 7.9. The District will start phasing students into the classroom after the risk score is below 7.

"Once we get to that point we will release some anticipating dates for returning students to the classroom starting with our students with the most exceptional needs and pre-K students.

Battle said assuming there is continued and sustained progress in the metrics for several days --- fifth through ninth-grade students will follow then the remaining middle and high school students.

She said this does not mean if the district hits its target on Monday students will return on Tuesday.

"We are all looking forward to seeing our students whose parents chose that option back into the classroom as soon as conditions allow," Battle said.

Things have gotten so tense in fact that Amanda Kail, who is president of the Metro Nashville teacher's union, recently filed an ethics complaint with the school board against board member Fran Bush. The issue sparked from a thread of Facebook comments involving both board members. The topic: whether or not students should return to the classroom amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recently released Centers For Disease Control (CDC) study says in-person instruction may be able to begin, but only with the right health protocols in place.

All Metro Schools returned from winter break virtually and has since remained in virtual learning. And no new start date to begin phasing students back into the classroom has been set.

COVID-19 metrics and those guidelines are expected to be at the center of discussion during tonight's MNPS board meeting. School officials use a "COVID Risk score" measurement to determine their course of action. It is a composite score of three metrics tracked daily by the city: transmission rate, 7-day positivity rate, and 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents.

To learn more about the risk score click here.