School Board sign

With the active coronavirus cases approaching 300 in Franklin County, the School System is making adjustments to have students study from home in a distance/virtual learning format.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean made the announcement Monday night that Decherd Elementary, South Middle and Huntland schools were going to the virtual format on Wednesday with all other schools joining them on Monday and Tuesday in virtual-learning days.

Bean aired the most recent decision on Monday in an automated phone call that went out to students’ parents.

“After meeting with my administrators today, I have come up with this as our plan for the next two weeks,” he said. “Some schools are not affected at all, some slightly and three are in dire need of some adjustments.”

Those three are Decherd Elementary, South Middle and Huntland schools.

The school system had been eyeing a Williamson County pandemic plan that calls for shifting to a more virtual/staggered class schedule when active coronavirus cases reach one half-percent of the county’s overall population.

Bean had said that means the active case number, according to the Williamson County plan, would be 213, based on Franklin County’s population being about 42,000.

The goal, he said, is to make adjustments now to reduce the chances of having to go a virtual format for an extended time period.

Bean said recently that if the caseload reaches 1 percent of the overall population — 426 active cases — the school system could go to a completely virtual educational format if the School Board opts to directly mirror the Williamson County plan.

With the plan for the next two weeks, Decherd, South and Huntland Schools went to distance/virtual Wednesday and it will be extended through next week. Decherd ESP (extended school program) will also be canceled.

Comprehensive development classes at South and Decherd are continuing this week only.

Bean said the time frame will be for five school days, factoring in days off normally for Thanksgiving, and 13 total days out of the buildings. Teachers and staff members will report to their respective schools, he added.

Teachers at the three more highly infected schools gave students their homework on Tuesday for the following five school days.

All other schools will join them on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week in distance/virtual learning days.

Bean said when students are away from school, personnel will be deep cleaning the campuses, and having the students more isolated should help reduce the number of COVID cases, which has also led to students being quarantined from some campuses.

In addition, all elementary and middle school games will be canceled or rescheduled to after the Thanksgiving holiday, and schedules for the high school basketball teams will also be affected.

CDC and ESP classes will be canceled on Monday and Tuesday of next week at all schools.

Bus routes will run for all students who need to be picked up this week.

“There is no perfect situation, but I believe we are doing our part to help control COVID at this time,” Bean said.