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COVID-19 and the Challenge of Getting Back to In-Person Classes


In Tennessee and across the world educators are facing tough decisions about whether to resume in-person instruction while there’s still no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Last Spring, in an effort to prevent the continued spread of the virus, governments and municipalities everywhere closed schools. While it may have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, school closures have also negatively impacted the well-being of many children and youth.

Most notably, students in many at-risk communities who were moved to online learning may not have the computer equipment or internet needed for un-interrupted online learning. For young students in particular, in-person learning is essential for brain and social development.  

In Tennessee, many school districts have chosen a hybrid plan of in-person and online learning while larger districts have chosen to remain closed to in person classes as cases numbers continue to rise. The new year is just around the corner and when students prepare to head back to class, however that looks, it’ll be important to support your children’s educational needs the best you can.  

If your child’s school district is allowing you to choose between in-person and online learning it will be important to stay up to date on the latest data in each county. The Department of Education has created a detailed COVID-19 case number map that details each school district’s COVID-19 numbers. Currently, 118 school districts across the state have opted for a hybrid-parent choice learning option. You’ll also find updates on the number of students and staff statewide who have contracted COVID-19. Data on student and staff COVID-19 positive cases, as well as operating models, is self-reported by districts.

This fall, the CDC released key indicators to help school districts make decisions about in-person learning as things continue to evolve throughout the pandemic. In Tennessee, the administration, along with multiple state agencies, including the Department of Education and the Department of Health, partnered to create a web site that offers resources for the safe return to school and child care.