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WCS releases reopening plan for 2020-21 school year

Schools to require masks on campus unless county eliminates active COVID-19 cases

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WCS School bus (copy)

Williamson County Schools released its reopening plan for the 2020–2021 school year with detailed COVID-19 protocols.

The Williamson County School District has released its detailed reopening plan, including the protocols for school operation within low, medium, and high spread of COVID-19 in Williamson County, to come to an official vote by the Board of Education on Monday.

At a glance, students will be allowed on campus under low to moderate community spread of the virus and will be required to wear masks and eat meals in their classrooms or in a socially-distanced cafeteria.

According to the plan, WCS defines the current prevalence of COVID-19 in the county as “low spread” (fewer active cases than 0.5% of the population). As of Thursday, July 9, at 2 p.m., the Tennessee Department of Health reported 948 active COVID-19 cases in Williamson County, whereas 0.5% of the population is roughly 1,192 people.

“While we realize that we may need to adjust as the health of our community changes, WCS is committed to providing engaging instruction to your child this school year,” WCS Superintendent Jason Golden wrote in the plan, adding that the district’s recent survey of families showed that the majority of respondents want their children back on campus in the fall.

“While many families look forward to an on-campus return to school, others prefer to keep their children home during this pandemic due to the risk that will accompany any on-campus program," Golden continued. "Recognizing those concerns, we plan to provide instruction on our school campuses, and we will be offering the WCS Online Program as an option for families this school year.”

The plan states that if the spread of COVID-19 exceeds 0.5% of the county’s population, the district will consult the Williamson County Health Department to determine if there is a need to switch to the district’s plan for medium (active cases representing between 0.5% and 1% of the population) or high community spread (above 1% of the population).

If the state of the virus in the county remains at “low spread,” schools will allow students to participate in on-campus or online learning based on parent choice, and students should be screened daily before coming to school.

The plan emphasizes hygiene and increased cleaning protocols, stating that social distancing will be maintained in buildings and buses “when feasible.” Masks will also be required for staff, students and visitors unless it is unsafe for an individual, an individual is eating or drinking, or an individual is directed by WCS staff and is maintaining proper social distance. Students will also be screened prior to entering the school building.

For the “medium spread” plan, many of the operational protocols are the same, except that students in early childhood education through second grade will be on campus while third- through 12th-graders will engage in remote learning with periodic on-campus, small-group learning sessions as scheduled by the schools. Special education students will receive instruction remotely or in person on a case-by-case basis.

If more than 1% of the community actively has COVID-19, all students will receive remote instruction except “under rare circumstances as deemed necessary by the principal.”

The plan breaks down what elementary, middle and high school instruction will look like at each level in further detail and outlines the online learning plan, which includes a blend of direct and non-direct instruction at every grade level.

When breakfast and lunchtime come around, the district has outlined various options depending on grade levels and community spread. For elementary schools, breakfast will be grab-and-go under low and medium community spread. Lunches will be eaten in classrooms or in the cafeteria with increased distancing. Cafeteria meals would not be available under high community spread.

Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, within low community spread, can receive a grab-and-go breakfast and eat lunch in classrooms or in the cafeteria with increased distancing. Grab-and-go breakfasts will be available for high-schoolers within medium community spread, but cafeteria meals will not otherwise be available under medium or high community spread in middle and high schools.

While each student without a device on which to complete remote schoolwork will receive a Chromebook from the school, those without reliable internet will be able to work with the district during the first week of school to figure out a plan.

Read the full plan from WCS below. For more information, visit wcs.edu.

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