In a letter to parents/guardians from Director of Schools Dr. Cathy Beck, initial plans for second semester of the 2020-21 are addressed.
I hope you are having a safe and blessed holiday season.
Over the winter break, district leaders have continued to review the latest COVID-19 data and guidance as we make decisions that are in the best interest of the physical, social and emotional health and well-being of both students and employees.
A combination of factors has led us to make the decision that the Cheatham County School District will start the second semester on the virtual schedule beginning Tuesday, Jan. 5 through Friday, Jan. 15. This includes all of our elementary, middle and high schools (including Riverside Academy).
There will be no school on Monday, Jan. 18 due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. When school resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 19, it is our hope that we will then operate on the hybrid schedule through Friday, Jan. 29. However, that will be contingent upon the number of active positive COVID-19 cases in our district and county.
The following factors were considered in making this decision:
• First, our original reopening plan called for the district to move to the virtual schedule when the current number of active COVID-19 cases hit 1 percent of our county’s population. On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the active number of cases in our county was 417. We also are taking into consideration the provisions of Gov. Bill Lee’s latest executive order, which includes guidance for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
• Second, in the weeks before our winter break, every school across the district struggled with staffing issues due to COVID-19 related leave and a severe substitute shortage.
• Third, we believe that virtual learning will allow time for those that may have been exposed during holiday celebrations to recover and/or quarantine before returning to in-person school.
We understand that moving to the virtual schedule may present challenges for our families, but we believe it’s necessary to accomplish our goal of safely educating our students.
Also, we remain hopeful that by being on the virtual schedule will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and improve staffing issues so there are less disruptions to learning and schedules.
We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and review data to determine when schools can safely open for in-person instruction five days a week and we will communicate that information with our families as quickly as possible.
Here’s some other important updates our families need to know about this decision:
• There will be no athletic contests/practices (including youth basketball leagues) and extra-curricular activities while we are on the virtual schedule.
• Our student daycare program and employee daycare program will be closed while we are on the virtual schedule. Our daycare staff will communicate any additional updates with our daycare families.
• Each school will have a meal distribution twice a week while on the virtual schedule for families to pick up breakfast and lunch, which are free to all children 0-18. When on the hybrid schedule, each school will have one meal distribution per week on Wednesday. Each school will communicate the times and locations with their families for the pickups.
• Families that have students with an IEP that are receiving special education services can refer to the continuous learning individual plans (CLIPS) that were created with their teachers and related services faculty outlining how services will be delivered during virtual learning. If you have any specific questions regarding your student’s CLIP, please reach out to their special education case manager. For any additional concerns or questions, families can also reach out to special education supervisor Sarah Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Please continue to let your school nurses know if there is a positive COVID-19 case or exposure in your household. This will help us to ensure the safe return of all our students.
• We want to remind our families that several Cheatham County businesses, government entities and churches are offering free public WiFi to help students who need access to the Internet while on the virtual or hybrid schedule. A list of community partners is available on our website: https://www.cheathamcountyschools.net/apps/news/article/1267564.
• District-issued laptops for elementary school students who don’t have their own personal computing device but have access to the Internet will be available and our elementary schools will be in communication with those families on how/when the laptops can be picked up.
• Our schools will be in communication with their families with additional academic instruction so please refer all questions to your student’s school.
As I have said before, it takes everyone in our community doing their part personally to substantially reduce the number of new cases in our county. We continue to encourage everyone to do their part to help defeat this virus and slow its spread and impact.
Please continue to follow the guidance of our local, state and national public health officials and medical experts to keep your family, friends and neighbors healthy by reducing the spread of the virus.
As always, thank you for your patience and cooperation as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Cathy Beck