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April 24, 2024

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Sumner schools on track to open Aug. 3

As Sumner County deals with a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, public schools are still on track to open Aug. 3, according to school district Spokesperson Jeremy Johnson.

On Monday, July 6, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt issued an Executive Order requiring residents to wear masks and/or face coverings in public after citing the recent spike. There have been approximately 450 new coronavirus cases across the county in the past two weeks, according to recent Emergency Medical Services data. The order by Mayor Holt expires Aug. 3.

The recent case numbers still aren’t enough to warrant the closing of schools, according to Johnson.

During the June 16 Board of Education meeting, Director of Schools Del Phillips unveiled an initial three-tiered “Pathway to Reentry” plan. The plan outlined three methods of learning – traditional, hybrid and remote – based on the county infection rate.

Minimal spread of the coronavirus, or less than .5 percent would entail a normal or traditional classroom/schedule supported by Sumner Connect, the county’s distance learning platform. Under this method, masks would be recommended, but not required in close spaces.

The hybrid model would entail a modified scheduling with Sumner Connect supporting students learning at home. This would be required with moderate spread, or a county infection rate of .5 percent to 1 percent. Masks would be required in classrooms and close contact spaces where feasible, and there would be limited movement of students in the building.

Substantial spread means a county infection rate of greater than 1 percent. No students would be in school buildings, and Sumner Connect would support all students for all instruction at home.

According to Johnson, the county infection rate can be calculated by adding the number of new confirmed cases for the last 21 days, then dividing by the county’s population and multiplying by 100. This calculation the school district is using was recommended by the local health department and local health care providers.

There were 531 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 between June 16 and July 6, according to Tennessee Department of Health data. According to the formula provided by Johnson, the county infection rate was .277 on July 6 – well below the .5 percent threshold needed in order for schools to move to a hybrid method.

Johnson said the school system would abide by all state and local government restrictions like Holt’s mask mandate, if still in place.

School board members will be presented a detailed, comprehensive plan for the re-opening of schools on Tuesday, July 14. The plan will be released to schools and parents on Wednesday, July 15.

As of July 13, 1,945 Sumner County residents had tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 56 deaths related to COVID-19 in Sumner County. Half of those deaths have been attributed to a single long-term care facility in Gallatin. 

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.