WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Officials with the Washington County, Tennessee Board of Education made few changes to their back to school plan.
As planned, students will transition from a full virtual schedule to a hybrid model on September 21.
That is not what some parents, who stood outside holding signs, were hoping for.
A group of parents outside of the board of education office told News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel they wanted students to return to a normal schedule on the 21st, rather than a hybrid schedule.
“We hope to see our kids return back to school in full five days a week,” said Ridgeview Elementary parent, Ashley Barnes. “We don’t want staggered learning. We don’t want them in there two days a week. We are the only school system — our kids are not back in school yet.”
Those parents listened to the virtual meeting in the parking lot as they were not allowed inside the board room.
“It’s all of us parents. They’re not just affecting the kids,” said Washington Co. Schools parent, Kara Lynn. “It’s affecting the moms, the dads, the brothers, the sisters…the family units as a whole.”
Lynn says the system’s plan impacts more than just the students.
“What is happening to our kids, emotionally, mentally, physically…it’s not just their education. It’s psychologically what this is putting them through,” Lynn said.
Board member Keith Ervin made a motion to grant that wish.
“Let’s go back 100% on the 21st, because the longer we wait, the closer to flu season is going to come,” Ervin said.
But, it ultimately failed.
Many of those frustrations came from the board’s September 3rd meeting that lasted more than five hours. Several parents who spoke to Anslee deemed it as a lack of planning by the board members.
“[Board members] have been very inconsistent in email responses saying that playing sports and packing football stadiums is okay but yet our child returning to the classroom is just not safe,” Barnes said.
The board of education members made two changes at Monday night’s meeting. One was to require masks for both staff and students. That rule will be treated similar to a dress code.
“If they choose not to wear a mask and they have no medical reason for doing so, then we’ll treat it like any other disciplinary infraction,” said Director of Schools, Dr. Bill Flanary.
The other amendment allows virtual students to also participate in athletics and extra-curricular activities.
During the meeting, Dr. Flanary explained why that was not in the original plan.
“If you can’t go to school and come to class, the same thing should apply for cheerleading or football or cross country,” Dr. Flanary said. “Why would they choose full virtual other than for safety reason and then completely negate that entire thing for something that’s even more dangerous like participating in football?”
The plan also reflects students going back in the classroom fully after fall break.
“We’ll be back full time with any luck at all October the 12th,” said Dr. Flanary. “That’s the plan as it is right now unless this COVID thing just skyrockets and the board has no choice but to do otherwise.”
You can watch the full Washington County, Tennessee Board of Education meeting on our WJHL Facebook page below.