Some Williamson County Schools parents desire eased COVID protocols | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools


As positive COVID-19 cases decline and vaccine availability grows, easing mitigation protocols for in-person students is top-of-mind for some Williamson County Schools parents.

A day before the deadline to decide whether to enroll students in online or in-person school for the fall, 10 parents made public comments at the Williamson County Board of Education’s meeting Monday. They discussed making masks optional or removing the requirement all together, loosening social distancing requirements, discontinuing mass quarantines, and extending the deadline for fall enrollment.

At the board’s work session earlier this month, Leigh Webb, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, explained that the enrollment deadline gives the district time to plan staffing and hiring for both in-person and online school for the fall semester.

If the district were to extend the deadline, it would run the risk of having to delay the start of school, Webb said. 

Some parents said Wednesday’s deadline was too soon to make an educated decision for their children.

“I disagree with WCS requiring that we register for online or in-person for next year without a commitment from [the board] on what next year will look like,” Karen Rayl said. 

Rayl, who has two children at Ravenwood High School, requested an “exit strategy” from the board to help her family make a commitment. She asked how big of a drop in cases would allow the district to OK a return to a pre-COVID “normal.”

Rebekah Parker addressed the district’s mask requirement.

“I think it’s time that the school system exits this pandemic mentality,” she said. “I don’t think the facts support the mask wearing, and it’s also a symbol of fear.”

Golden predicts masks will be required the rest of the current school year under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

Golden announced that under a notice from the state, social distancing standards may decrease from 6 feet to at least 3 feet at the elementary school level as long as students wear masks. At the secondary school level, the same standard will apply if community transmission is at a lower level.

Gary Anderson, WCS executive director of COVID-19 response, and his team have met with the local health department and are working to coordinate a plan for this change in Williamson County. This could address, in part, some of the requests from parents.

Golden said he cannot give a definitive answer on how and when to implement other changes at this time. 

“As we sit here in late March, I can’t predict the future,” Golden said. “I can be optimistic, but what I can tell you is that my intent and my plan is to follow our health authority’s guidelines as much as we can with the goal that we’ve had throughout the school year of keeping students on campus.”

As of Monday, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, there were 495 active cases of COVID-19 in Williamson County and 29 new cases, which is a dramatic drop from a high point of 357 new cases reported on January 7. However, there was also a spike in the the seven-day average percentage of positive cases within the last ten days, from 5.5% to 9.1%.



Source link