Nashville's teachers union warns that little will be ‘normal’ even when students return to the classroom

Posted at 9:19 AM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 10:45:54-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville’s teachers union says overall, it supports Metro Nashville Public Schools’ decision to let parents choose between in-person and virtual learning once the district decides to reopen classrooms. However, the organization warns that very little will be "normal" once students return.

MNPS announced Tuesday that families will need to decide between virtual or in-person learning "once it is safe to do so." The decision will be made for the remainder of the year, with an option to update that decision prior to the start of the second semester in January.

Amanda Kail, President of the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association (MNEA), said in a statement Wednesday that the organization supports Dr. Adrienne Battle’s decision, adding that’s in “stark contrast to many districts across the state that have thrown teachers into online or in-person learning with little to no notice.”

Kail also acknowledged that online learning isn’t ideal but cautioned parents that once students go back to class, they won’t be returning to a “normal classroom," and "they will not be able to speak, work, or play with their classmates."

“We know that online learning is far from ideal, especially for students with the most severe and profound disabilities and early elementary, and so it makes sense to begin in-person classes with these groups. We are concerned, however, that parents may believe their child will be returning to a ‘normal’ classroom, when in fact there will be little that is normal. Students will not be able to move about freely. They may be confined to their classrooms, or even an area of their classrooms. They will not be able to speak, work, or play with their classmates. They will be wearing masks all day except to eat, and their teachers will be wearing masks, face shields, gloves, and other protective equipment. There will be no reassuring hugs, and smiles will be impossible to see. For very young children, this may be a very strange and stressful situation. It is important that parents truly consider what an in-person classroom will look like in the midst of a deadly pandemic before they make the decision of whether to return in person or remain online.”

Metro Schools began a phased-in approach in September with students with exceptional needs returning to special day schools and traditional schools.

If Davidson County maintains its progress in slowing COVID-19, officials say, the district intends to invite students back through a gradual approach starting Pre-K through second grade students after fall break.

Click here to read more from MNPS. The family decision survey is due on September 15.

Read more here:

MNPS asks parents, students to choose between virtual or in-person learning