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Nashville schools reopening in fall, plans depend on COVID-19 phases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —Nashville leaders announced plans to reopen Metro Schools on time for the 2020-21 school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reopening plan includes a review of COVID-19 metrics and knowledge of community spread that will determine which of three scenarios the schools will operate under based on the virus.

The three scenarios are as follows:

No Spread to Minimal Spread:Corresponding to Phase 4 of the Roadmap, schools would operate under relatively normal conditions under this scenario. Steps taken would be similar to what occurs during a normal flu season.

Minimal to Moderate Spread:Corresponding to Phase 3 of the Roadmap, schools would engage in significant social-distancing protocols to reduce potential contact between staff and students. Masks would be worn in common areas, entrances and exits would be limited, large-scale assemblies would be discontinued, hallways would be made one-way in certain circumstances, meals would be eaten in classes when possible or schools would enact social distancing policies in cafeterias.

Significant Spread:Corresponding to Phase 2 or less of the roadmap, school facilities would be closed. Students would learn remotely whenever possible.

The school year is expected to begin on August 4, according to a schools calendar. More detailed reopening plans will be shared during the week of July 6. Metro Schools anticipates being able to say which of the three scenarios schools will start with at that time so that parents and teachers have time to prepare for the year.

“MNPS students and their families have worked hard to continue their education through remote and virtual learning,” said Mayor John Cooper. “They’ve showed resiliency and finished the 2020 school year strong. Nashville’s Plan for Reopening Schools is built on public health best practices, and we will do everything possible to safeguard our students’ health as they return to their classrooms for the 2020-21 academic year.”

The schools reopening plan was produced by a group chaired by Dr. Adrienne Battle and chair of Nashville’s COVID-19 Task Force Dr. Alex Jahangir.

“Nashville has made a lot of progress, and we are optimistic for a return to some sense of normalcy in August, but we must be vigilant to ensure the safety of all when doing so,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle. “A unified framework for all schools will give families a clear direction for where the city is going to be in the fall, with the flexibility necessary for individual schools and organizations to develop their own plans based on the needs of their students.”

Metro Schools first shut down due to COVID-19 concerns on March 16. They initially planned on only being closed through April 3, but that closure continued. Gov. Lee called on schools to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year on April 15.

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