Wilson County Schools plans to open its buildings for students to return on Monday, Aug. 3, the school board announced at its monthly meeting on Monday.
“That is the date we’re looking are returning to school,” WCS Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright said. “Right now, that date is Aug. 3, but that can change overnight.”
Students have not taken classes in a school building since March 2 because of tornadoes and COVID-19 closures.
Lebanon Special School District Director Scott Benson said that the planned opening date for those schools is Monday, Aug. 10.
At a WCS board workshop last week, Wright said that nearly three-quarters of Wilson County families responding to a school district survey said they are comfortable with students returning to the school buildings next month.
Seventy-three percent of the responding families chose that option. Sixty-five percent said they are comfortable with a hybrid model (some students go to the building on alternate days and some students take all-virtual classes). Fifty-five percent said they are comfortable with all-virtual classes.
Skyward is open for registration, and parents can choose the traditional (in-school learning) or to keep their children at home to learn in virtual classes. A list of course offerings is also available on Skyward, although the virtual classes will not have honors or AP courses.
Dr. Monty Wilson, WCS Deputy Director of Academics, said that parents will have until Friday, July 17 to make the decision as to what type of learning their students will receive during the first semester.
Whichever option a parent chooses, the family will be required to commit to the full first semester, Dr. Christina Harris, WCS Supervisor of Educator Effectiveness, said.
Internet hotspots will be available to use from the parking lot at each Wilson County school starting Aug. 3. Each student will have a district-issued device.
WCS Health Services Supervisor Chuck Whitlock gave a health protocols overview to the board. He said that every day, anyone who comes onto a campus will be required to have a temperature check and answer questions about COVID-19 symptoms.
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has given every school district across the state one touchless thermometer for every 40 students. WCS has received nearly 500 thermometers. They are also getting nearly 1 million disposable face coverings for teachers and potentially students.
If a student has a temperature of 100.4 or higher, he or she will be isolated within the clinic area. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the school will notify the parents of those students who had been in direct contact with the infected child. Testing for COVID-19 will not be done through the school system.
Field trips and assemblies are canceled until future notice, but trips for athletic events and club competitions will be able to take place. If traveling by bus, all riders must wear a mask. Overnight trips will not be allowed, Whitlock said.
Screenings before sports practices will also take place, he added, saying “we’re doing the best we can to keep the virus out.” Locker rooms will be open, but face coverings are required within the locker room area.
Whitlock said that the games will still be played.
“Without paying spectators, high school sports do not exist,” Whitlock said. “It costs money to host a sporting event. We need paying fans in the stands, and we need them to take precautions to be a healthy spectator.”
Classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasium, common areas and other parts of each school will look different with tables and chairs spread out and social distancing taking place where necessary. Desks will be cleaned between classes and WCS is working with vendors to determine the best plan for disinfectants to be used.
For more information, go to www.wcschools.com and click on the “Ready. Set. Connect!” button.
Benson said school registration opened July 3. The deadline to register for the online learning option is Monday, July 13. The deadline for registering for the traditional, in-school option is Monday, July 20.
“We designated the week of Aug. 3 as a transition/phase in week for us,” he said. “Students will attend one day with a parent in small groups to lay the foundation for success of the school year. August 10 is our first official day of school.”
For more information about the LSSD plans, go to www.lssd.org and use the “Back to School” tab.