NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - After months of waiting and virtual learning, more Metro Nashville Public Schools students returned to the classroom on Tuesday.
"It's mixed emotions for me," Devin Flaherty, who was dropping her child off at Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School for their first day, said. "It was hard. I didn’t anticipate it being that hard and he just walked right in like no big deal."
Parents told News 4 it was a bit difficult balancing work schedules while the kids were learning at home.
“He needs to be in the classroom learning,” Flaherty said. “He’s just not getting anything from the virtual being at his age.”
As Pre-K through second graders returned for a half day on Tuesday, schools asked parents to remind children to practice social distancing.
School leaders also asked parents to show these young learners how to put on a mask, and wear it properly, with the mask covering both their mouths and noses.
They are also reminding parents, especially this year, if your child is not feeling well, no matter how mild the symptoms, keep them at home.
"If a family member is not feeling well and your child’s been exposed to them, even if your child is asymptomatic, again please take precaution and keep them home," Dr. Mason Bellamy, chief of academics for MNPS said. "We will work with you in getting your child’s work."
The parents of students returning on Tuesday said yes on a survey sent out earlier this year.
"It’s a relief but its also scary at the same time because she does want to come back," Bowman said. "She was actually excited this morning about coming back. And I actually asked all of my children if they were ready to come back I kind of gave them the option and they all said they were ready to come back."
District officials said nearly 75% of parents responded to the survey with 54 percent in favor of in-person learning.
MNPS adopted Florida Virtual School as curriculum for the entire school year. School leaders told News4 the same curriculum will be used for students returning to the classroom.
The only difference for those students returning to in-person learning would be having a teacher physically present.
Students will continue to use Schoology for the second semester, and will continue to use the computers given to them at the beginning of the school year.
Dr. Bellamy told News4 the district wants to keep learning consistent for all its students, whether they're continuing to learn from home or returning to the classroom.
"If we run into an issue where we have to shut a school down again, hopefully we never get there, but if we have to shut down pods of schools or even the whole district again, we want to make sure there's a continuity of education and students aren’t flipping back from one curriculum in-person to another one online," Dr. Bellamy said.
Parents said they feel confident the school district is prepared for the return.
"I hope so. I feel like they’ve had enough time to put the procedures and the cautions in place in order to allow our kids come back to school," Eaven Rankins, who is a parent of a Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School student, said.
Later Tuesday, Metro Schools leaders will also make a return of their own, and will hold their first in-person board meeting since March.
Frustrated Metro Schools parents plan to make their voices heard outside ahead of the meeting. The parents, pushing for all students to be back in the classroom by the end of the year, have organized a rally outside Metro Schools headquarters.
The rally will begin at 4 p.m., an hour before the school board meeting is scheduled to start.
Right now, Metro Schools' plan is to phase in the youngest students first, with high schoolers not scheduled to return for in-person learning until January.
The proposed Metro Schools phase-in schedule is as follows:
- Pre-K through Grade 2 will return for half days on Oct. 13 and 14 and two full days on Oct. 15 and 16.
- Grades 3 and 4 return on Oct. 20
- Grades 5 and 6 return on Oct. 27
- Grades 7 and 8 return on Nov. 4
- High school students return in January