NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - When it comes to questions and concerns parents have about this upcoming school year, they’re endless.
One mother, LaTasha Henderson, raised a ton of questions on social media over the weekend. She has a child in elementary school and one in middle school with health issues: heart disease. On Facebook, she wrote in part:
“If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19, are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered and paid for?”
“Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?”
Beth Brown, President of the Tennessee Education Association, said these are some of the many questions she’s hearing.
“Absolutely. In fact I got a message less than an hour ago with those very questions," Brown said.
Brown said she is also worried about those things. She’s heard from parents, teachers and faculty all across the state, many have questions about what school will look like in the weeks and months to come.
“TEA doesn’t have an answer to all of those questions. A lot of those decisions are going to have to be made at a district level, but it’s certainly at the forefront of our minds and we’ll be working with our local affiliates to advocate around the local level,” Brown said.
Brown said she’s heard the cries from dozens of educators over the past week.
“We conducted a wide reaching survey a few weeks ago that garnered over 23,000 responses. 49% were from educators, 41% were from parents and 10% were from community members as a whole," Brown said. "The results show exactly what we're seeing now, that there's a lot of fear."
Monday, the Tennessee Education Association released a list of demands if or when classroom instruction resumes.
The group wants school districts to mandate the use of face coverings to all who enter and remain in a school building. They also are asking that districts provide every educator and student with multiple cloth face coverings that can be cleaned and rotated in use.
They also want every classroom to have an ample amount of sanitation supplies.
Many districts are taking precautions right now.
Metro Schools, for example, plans to do only virtual learning until Labor Day. A decision on whether to reopen in-person will be made at least two weeks prior and in order to give parents and staff time to adjust.
When opening in-person, Metro Schools will give families the option to stay in the virtual environment. They also are going to be working with staff to identify those who are high risk so they can work virtually as well.
Other district across the area, like Wilson County for example, have a reopening plan which includes a traditional format. They are also taking some precautionary measures, such as temperature checks, symptom questions and isolating anyone who shows symptoms.
Brown said they’re all great first steps, but she also wants to make sure we continue these precautions in the weeks and months to come.
“There’s a lot of anxiety, but there’s also a lot of desire for schools to reopen and so it’s paramount for us to figure out how to make that work in a safe manner for everybody," Brown said.