August 20, 2021
Dr. Cathy Beck, director of Cheatham County Schools, issued a message to families across the county earlier this afternoon to help better explain topics like masks, virtual learning, and quarantine.
The district "highly encourages" students and employees to wear a mask.
Recently, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order that states parents or guardians have the right to opt out of any requirement for a student to wear a face covering at school, on a bus, or at school functions. Because of this order, if a school district mandates masks, families have the right to opt out.
"Please be aware that wearing a mask reduces the chances of a student being placed on quarantine," Dr. Beck states. "According to the Center for Disease Controls (CDC), in a K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time."
Earlier this year, the Tennessee State Board of Education approved a rule limiting the ability for school districts to utilize a Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) to provide instruction in the 2021-22 school year.
This rule means students that want to learn virtually must enroll in a "dedicated virtual school" which is only available at the high school level; enrollment is now closed.
The state of Tennessee has shifted the responsibility of quarantine this year from school districts to the local health departments. For this reason, the school district cannot mandate a child to quarantine if he/she is considered a close contact, but "we do highly recommend that families follow the CDC quarantine guidelines," Beck added.
Some families might have received an automated text message from the Department of Health (DOH) over the past few days.
Here’s why: The district gathers initial information for probable positive COVID cases amongst students and staff. The contact information gathered is then shared with the DOH. Parents will receive an automated text message from the DOH after this and the district strongly encourages parents to follow the recommendations provided. Families will then receive a phone call from the DOH about their quarantine expectations.
If your family has school-related contact tracing questions, please call 615-532-5147.
"The district is working to implement an automated email to families notifying them that information was provided to the DOH. We are asking families to ensure that their contact information in Skyward is up-to-date and emails are checked daily," says Beck.
Families should keep their child at home if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or if their child has had close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19.
According to the district, students will not be permitted to return to the school building until the specific number of days required by the DOH has been met, even if they do not develop symptoms. Once the specified time period is over, these individuals may return to school with documentation of clearance. For additional questions, please contact your child’s school nurse.
The district also encourage families to keep their child at home when they are sick. If your child is out of school due to illness, please notify the school.
"We continue to emphasize frequent washing of hands, the use of sanitizer and social distancing when possible as this helps reduce the chances of COVID-19 passing from one person to another," Beck says.
If your child is out of school due to a COVID-19 issue, families are asked to contact his/her school about academic instruction. At this time, students are able to complete instruction by utilizing the Schoology program or work packets, depending on which school they attend. This work can be done independently while the child is home. If you have any instruction questions, please contact your child’s teacher.
"In closing, it is frustrating to all of us that COVID-19 is impacting another school year and adding such monumental challenges to our daily lives," says Beck. "I am proud of the work that our staff is doing in serving our students this year, and we need your support as we work together to have a successful school year."