Year in review: Students endure tumultuous school year amid pandemic

Safely Back to School
Posted at 12:27 AM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-01 01:27:12-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In 2020, students across the mid-state endured the roller coaster of the COVID-19 pandemic as districts navigated trying to safely return to school.

Juggling work, school, and family life during a pandemic was challenging for many families.

“It is loud and busy but at least there’s a mute button on most of the calls so it’s a little wild, we’re all in this together, it’s okay,” Meagan Smith said. “And the other days we just kind of ping pong it at home."

In Nashville, Metro Schools Director Dr. Adrienne Battle closed schools to in-person learning in March. Dr. Battle said, "There was not, and is not, a playbook for unprecedented times like these.”

In the summer, families found out MNPS was going to start the fall semester virtually. Rachel Welty said she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I totally understand that it’s potentially dangerous for kids to go to school, it’s also an impossible situation for a working parent,” Welty said. “It’s going to cause a lot of problems for people.”

In October, Metro officials took steps to return to school and phase-in students. The decision sparked a rally, and some teachers were worried about the risks according to Amanda Kail, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association President. "A lot of teachers right now are feeling that they are in some medical experiment and they didn't consent to that," Kail said.

In neighboring Williamson County, a group of parents also protested. People like Kelly Jackson were demanding the option to send students back virtually or in-person, which parents were ultimately given. "Students should have a choice, parents should have a choice, teachers should have a choice," Jackson said.

In Williamson and Coffee County, school officials also faced lawsuits regarding mask mandates in the classroom.

Fast forward to December, COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed. Now families across Tennessee are wondering what's in store for the 2021 school year.