MNPS community gets taste of new changes with provided meals and virtual learning tools

Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 21:36:46-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To get a better sense of how the new school year will be in Davidson County, look no further than Madison Middle School.

From the outside, employees and parents converge near the entrance to accomplish two goals: pick up school-issued laptops or food.

The district handed out approximately 34,000 laptops, about half of the student population in Metro. The devices were also the thorn to a bumpy start to the year with network issues affecting connectivity. Velvet Frazier managed to avoid the headache in the morning since she drove to the school to pick up laptops for her two children.

She hit two birds with one stone by picking up meals for her children as well. Helping greet the parents are employees such as Aundra Broadhurst.

“I like whatever it is I can do to help. If their bellies are full, that means they’re ready for learning,” Broadhurst said.

Metro Nashville Public Schools created a plan that has more than 160 schools offering parents grab-to-go meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day starting on Tuesday.

Bus drivers will also be delivering the meals, breakfast and lunch, to families at the bus stops on their normal route. Pick-up times at the bus stops depend on the student’s grade. Parents will need to provide the student’s name, school, grade, birth date and student ID number.

“I have teenagers and they eat a lot. So this helps,” Frazier said.

About 80,000 meals were prepared on the first day of school.

Inside the school was a less bustling scene. Special education teacher Andrea Kennedy chose to start the school year in her empty classroom. She said there were some hiccups with many students trying to log on to the program, but the class started fairly smoothly.

Since she serves a specific population of kids, Kennedy not only has to navigate virtual learning but also reassure parents their child’s needs will be met.

“I’m going through contacting each of the parents and letting them know that although it’s online, we’re still providing services to their child,” Kennedy explained.

While the start of the school year will focus on getting students acclimated to the system, there will also be a focus to prioritize social and emotional learning. As a result, Kennedy is offering instructions on getting to know the children and find ways they can describe their personality.

“We’re using various modes of communication and outreach for students. We have many virtual experiences for social and emotional learning,” MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle said. “Our teachers, who we call navigators, are reaching out one on one to our students and we're also conducting home virtual visits with families to connect them to the resources that we have available.”