Metro Schools Will Start Virtual Learning on August 4th

Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Schools for MNPS, announced today that all Metro schools will begin virtual instruction on August 4, 2020. Virtual learning will continue at least until September 7, 2020. See below for Dr. Battle’s full statement.

Today we are announcing that Metro Schools will start, as scheduled, on August 4 but in a virtual environment due to the increased spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Please know that we have not made this decision lightly, as we all want to get back to the classroom environment as soon as possible. But the risks to the health and safety of students and staff are too great at this moment in time.

We will be in the virtual environment until at least the Labor Day holiday on September 7, and we will make decisions on returning to an in-person classroom environment at least two weeks before it goes into effect so families and staff will have time to plan appropriately. We are prepared to return to in-person learning as soon as conditions allow.

I want to be very clear: This is not going to be the same Remote Learning 2.0 environment that we had when schools closed.

  • Assignments will be graded.
  • Tests will be given.
  • Attendance will be required and tracked.
  • Teachers will be expected to provide synchronous (live) virtual classroom experiences.
  • 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 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 (called asynchronous learning).
  • Teachers and school staff will 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.

If you attend a zoned, magnet, or other optional school, you’ll remain with that school in the virtual setting, and your teachers will be assigned by the school principal to conduct online classes.

Devices and Wi-Fi Access

There is a large technology gap at MNPS between students who have access to their own computer devices and those who do not. We are going to close that gap by preparing devices at all our schools and distributing them to students who need them.

At the end of the 2019-20 school year, teachers and school staff surveyed parents to find out their technology needs. Schools will be following back up with those families and reaching out to families who were not surveyed earlier this year to determine if they still need a device or internet access. Those will be provided from the schools, as well as through bus routes for families that do not have access to transportation.

We kindly ask those students or families with reliable access to their own computers to wait during this first round, but we have computers on order to make MNPS a 1:1 technology district. Microsoft Windows devices are preferred, but Macs, Chromebooks, and most tablets will also work in the Schoology platform.

Food Access

We will still be providing meals to students, but on an expanded basis from what we’ve been doing since schools closed. We plan to have every school kitchen preparing and distributing meals and will be using our regular bus routes to deliver meals to students without access. Unfortunately, we are limited by state and federal regulations in what we can provide free of charge. Those students who attend a CEP (Community Eligibility Provision) school or those who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program will continue to have access to free meals. Others will need to pay for meals like they would in school. An updated list of schools that are CEP eligible will be released next week. We will continue to push for state and federal waivers to allow for expanded meal opportunities.

In-Person Learning Environment

Eventually, the spread of COVID-19 will be reduced enough for us to return to an in-classroom environment. Once that happens, families will be given the option of sending students to school or keeping them home and participating in the virtual program. Since we are all going to be virtual starting on August 4, we will give families more time to make that decision, but if you know you’ll want to be virtual, we’ll have a form online next week that will allow you to state your preference to inform the staff planning process for school leaders.  

Returning to school does not mean returning to business as usual. There will be significant additional safety precautions taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • Parents will be asked to check temperatures of students and monitor health symptoms prior to sending them to school.
  • Staff will have temperature and symptom checks each morning when entering school.
  • Students and teachers will be provided masks and will be required to wear them.
  • Social distancing measures will be taken to reduce crowding and large groups of students.
  • Due to classroom configurations, six feet of distance between desks will not often be feasible, but desks will be spaced as much as possible and facing in one direction.
  • Buses will have assigned seats, and students will be limited to two per seat. Drivers will disinfect the seats after morning and afternoon runs.
  • Sanitizer stations will be available in schools, and students and staff will be asked to wash their hands at regular intervals.
  • Custodial staff will be responsible for wiping down touch points in common areas (doorknobs; cafeterias). Custodians are contractually obligated to wipe down desks and classroom tables each night. Classrooms, during daily usage, will be the responsibility of teachers and/or designated students in the classroom for wiping down desks, seats, and shared classroom materials in-between use.

These steps will reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission but won’t entirely eliminate the risk. We want to set realistic expectations so that families can make the decision that is right for them.

We know you have a lot of questions. We’ve created a website, www.mnps.org/backtoschool, where we will post guides, frequently asked questions, and information you can use to make informed decisions in the best interest of your children. As always, we’re grateful for the trust you place in us and the strong partnership we have with you in the critical work of teaching and learning.

In closing, I want to emphasize this point: Decisions we make at the district level are based on the decisions made by members of our community. If we stay home when possible, wear masks in public, and follow health care guidelines, we will be able to return to school safely. No one likes to have to do that, but if we want our economy, schools, and society to get back to normal more quickly, we must make these small sacrifices now to have better outcomes in the future.

Sincerely,

Adrienne Battle

Photo credit: August de Richelieu from Pexels

Update: Deadline Extended to Receive Financial Assistance

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced this month that Tennessee families are now eligible to receive financial support for their children’s nutritional needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is provided through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. The application period has been extended to July 13, 2020 at 4:30 pm. 

Under the new P-EBT program, families of children who receive free or reduced meals at school or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school may receive financial assistance to replace school meals during the months of March, April and May due to COVID-19 school closures. The program will provide parents with $5.70 per child for each day that child qualifies for P-EBT.

“Families across our state depend on the meals their children receive at school and many were not prepared to immediately replace those meals when schools shut down for COVID-19,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “The P-EBT program brings economic support to ensure children receive the nutrition they need. Helping families through this emergency is how we continue building a thriving Tennessee.”

Parents who already receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits currently, do not need to apply. The funds began arriving on the EBT card they already use beginning June 12. Parents who do not receive SNAP benefits, but whose children do qualify for free or reduced school meals, will need to apply for P- EBT online here beginning June 15.

Individuals who need assistance completing their P-EBT application or have general questions about the program are encouraged to call the TDHS hotline at 1-833-496-0661 and select option 3. Qualifying families will receive P-EBT support in two installments, one for meals in March and April initially, and then one additional disbursement later next month for May meals.

“During the COVID-19 school closures, we saw an incredible, herculean effort to keep providing meal services to students and families,” said TDOE Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This additional relief from P-EBT will be helpful during this time of uncertainty for families and it is important to make sure every eligible family knows about the program.”

Throughout the COVID-19 school closures, many districts and schools across Tennessee used innovative ways to continue delivering meals to students and families, such as “grab and go” options, drive-throughs, or bus delivery, and on average provided 1.5 million meals a week to families regardless of a student’s enrollment. Many emergency sites are continuing to provide student meals and receiving these meals does not disqualify a family from the P-EBT program.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve states for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). Approved state agencies may operate P-EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation when the school would otherwise be in session. Tennessee is among the more than 40 states that have received P-EBT approval.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.

Framework for Reopening Schools

We know our Sylvan Park families are anxiously anticipating word on whether school will reopen on August 4th. MNPS released a Framework today with three levels for re-opening and operating the 2020-2021 school year based on the rate of community COVID-19 spread in Metro-Nashville. An announcement will be made the week of July 6th regarding which scenario we will be following. What school will look like depends on us. Please continue to wear masks and socially distance so we can welcome our Panthers back in the safest manner possible on August 4th. For more detailed information, including the official Framework, please see the news release from the school district.

LAST WEEK to Order School Supplies

Friday is the last day to order school supply kits! The kits contain all the supplies Sylvan Park teachers have determined students will need for the year. Be sure to select the grade your child WILL BE ENTERING in the fall. The sale is online only. Orders will be waiting for your child on the 1st day of school. Order online at: http://www.shopttkits.com and enter Sylvan Parks account number: 79045. 

Questions? Contact carrie_a_harris@yahoo.com.

Drive-Thru School Items Pickup

Student items pickup day on May 21 will be drive-thru style. Please display a tag with your child’s first and last name and grade level. Families of students in Kindergarten through grade 2 will drive through the back parking lot; those with students in grades 3 and 4 will drive in front of the school. *If you have children in both grade spans, you will need to drive through both locations.

Pickup times are staggered by student last name:
8-10am A-F 10am-12pm G-L 12-2pm M-R 2-4pm S-Z
Everyone must stay in their vehicles. Staff will be stationed outside and grade level teachers will bring students’ items out to your car.

Please make every effort to retrieve your child’s items Thursday, May 21. For those unable to come May 21, a very limited number of staff will be present at the front of the school from 8-10am Friday, May 22.

Please adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay 6 feet apart. If you must walk/bike, there will be X’s 6 feet apart on which to wait. This is a quick pickup time, a quick hi/bye, not a teacher conference time. Teachers and staff are happy to talk or answers questions virtually.

Medications distribution will be in front of the building and handled on an individual basis by Yawanda and Ali. Your child’s personal items from the classroom will be brought to you with the medications.

If you have library items or laptops to return, there will be boxes for those at the front of each car rider line. You will need to complete a form if you are returning a laptop to Sylvan Park.

Lost and Found items will be held until the building re-opens.

Show Your Panther Pride!

Break out the markers, balloons, streamers and smiles. You’re invited to show your Sylvan Park spirit with whatever resources you have on hand. Post a message for teachers in the window of your car. Use the leftover streamers to wave out the window. Enlist your kids to use household items to decorate your vehicle and/or dress up in Sylvan Park style for Thursday’s drive thru pickup of school items. Let’s ring in summer with Panther pride!

Library Items Due Aug. 5

Returning School Library Items
Families will have until August 5, 2020 to return library items, however, you may return your MNPS library books on personal belonging pick up day. We will have collection bins labeled for library items as part of the pick up line. To see what books your child has currently checked out:

  • Go to http://www.library.nashville.org 
  • Click on the orange “My Account”  button in the top right corner
  • Enter your child’s 190# for the Library Card Number
  • Enter the MMDD of your child’s birthday for the PIN
  • A list if both NPL and MNPS books will be displayed. All MNPS library books have a 10 digit item number beginning with two letter (example: QQ00305012). 

You may also return any MNPS library items to any Nashville Public Library branch over the summer. Please contact Laura.calverley@mnps.org with any questions about library items.