1,700 displaced Wilson Co. students return to new schools after March tornado, district will learn under hybrid plan

Posted at 5:57 AM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 19:31:09-04

LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Wilson County students headed back to school Monday, and some students started a new school as the district works to rebuild following the March tornado.

Two schools in this district were severely damaged in the March tornadoes and now some of the students will call Mt. Juliet Middle School home for the year.

Stoner Creek Elementary School and West Wilson Middle School were both hit hard by the tornado. West Wilson Middle School was also badly damaged. In all, the tornado left 1,700 students and 150 staff members without a place to call home for the school year.

As a result, kids from Stoner Creek Elementary, along with 6th graders from West Wilson Middle School, will go to Mt. Juliet Middle. Seventh and eighth graders from West Wilson will go to Mt. Juliet High School, which will now serve grades seven through 12.

Seventh and eighth graders from Mt. Juliet Middle School will go to the new Green Hill High School, which also becomes a school for grades 7— 12.

District leaders say going back to school today is especially important, because the district has been out of school longer than most others.

While that will be an adjustment for students, there's a new way of learning for all students in the district. Wilson County Schools are doing what's called a modified hybrid, which is a blend of in-person and online classes.

However, not everyone is coming into school at once. Students will be broken up into two groups based off the first letter of their last name.

Both groups will go to school for two days out of the week and learn remotely the other three. District officials say this will be the norm until fall break, but of course that could change.

Masks are mandatory for both students and staff on school campuses. When they're at school, kids will be put into zones so if someone does get COVID-19, it'll be easier for the district to do contact tracing.

Even though students won't see each other every day, district leaders feel the hybrid system will bring a sense of normalcy.

“You have to believe that our students, they long to see familiar faces, be it staff members, teachers, friends in their schools. So absolutely, we believe those are entirely connected to students' well-being,” said Bart Barker with Wilson County Schools.

Families were also given the option of doing fully remote learning. About 20% of students are going that route this year.