Instead of allowing families to choose from either in-person or remote learning options, all 86,000 students will start the school year learning from home on Aug. 4.
Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle made the announcement official on Thursday afternoon. She said her decision "was not made lightly."
Battle said the district must put the health and safety of its students and employees first and all the information she has seen, combined with feedback from experts, community members and families, led her to the conclusion that it is not safe to reopen schools before Labor Day.
When students and teachers do return to school buildings, families will still have the option to keep their children at home and do remote learning.
“I am confident that our teachers and support staff will be up to the challenge of providing a great education that meets the academic and social-emotional needs of our students in a virtual learning environment," Battle said.
The city's charter schools are also following Metro Schools' lead. All members of the Nashville Charter Collaborative — including KIPP, LEAD Public Schools, Nashville Classical, Republic Schools, Rocketship Public Schools, Valor Collegiate Academies and others — will open virtually for at least the first month of the 2020-21 school year, according to a statement Thursday.
School leaders said the virtual learning program will not be voluntary and "greatly expanded" from the one launched in April 2020. It will include the following items:
- Assignments will be graded.
- Tests will be given.
- Attendance will be required and tracked.
- Teachers will be required to offer a certain number of hours each week for live classrooms, open office hours, and individualized learning support.
- Curriculum will be consistent across schools and based on a proven virtual school program.
- Schoology will be the platform used by teachers and students to provide access to homework, tests, and lessons that students can access at their own pace (known as asynchronous learning).
- There will be an extensive focus on social-emotional supports for teachers and school staff, who will then support students’ social-emotional and academic needs with regular, personalized check-ins.
- For each child with disabilities, we are developing a COVID-19 Continuous Learning Individualized Plan (CLIP). The CLIP will identify how MNPS will implement the services and supports in your child's lEP or Section 504 Plan in a virtual setting.
On Tuesday, July 14, Metro Schools Board will consider a contract "to provide a virtual learning curriculum that has achieved proven results serving students in an online environment." The portal used will be “schoolology" — where students will access homework, tests and other lessons.
According to Dr. Battle's statement, virtual class will be optional when kids can finally enter their school buildings again.
"For some, this will be a burden that they don’t want to endure. For others, it will still not be enough to make families and students feel comfortable about returning to school," Battle said. "That’s why we’re in a place to allow students back in the classrooms, will still maintain an option for students to learn virtually from home."