Snowen Golden

David Snowden (left) and Jason Golden

In an effort to gain better control of the COVID-19 surge currently taking place, leaders of Williamson County Schools and the Franklin Special School District have asked state legislators from the county to urge Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Department of Education to allow for school districts to resume Continuous Learning Plans (CLPs) that were used last year.

WCS Superintendent Jason Golden and FSSD Director of Schools David Snowden sent a letter Tuesday to Sen. Jack Johnson and Reps. Glen Casada, Brandon Ogles and Sam Whitson, stating the necessity that they approach the governor and the Department of Education to immediately take action to help lessen the impact from the Delta variants.

Whitson told the Home Page that he plans to present the letter to Gov. Lee and others in state leadership. He acknowledged that the state’s Department of Education and Department of Health reiterated in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon that the current protocols will remain for all districts.

“That’s unfortunate because some school systems pulled it off [CLPs last year] and some did not, and I think they should give more authority and flexibility to school systems that were successful in implementing CLPs. … 

“All [Golden and Snowden] are asking for is to have more tools for their tool box to respond to this increase of COVID cases. I intend to share this letter with the state leadership and see what they can do. … I think Jason and David really articulated the challenges they are facing and I think the state leadership needs to address that. Again, not all school systems are alike and one size does not fit all.” 

The letter from the school district leaders pointed out that last year both WCS and FSSD worked together with the goal of being on campus if possible.

“As part of our CLPs, when positive cases and attendance reached a point where we could not be on campus, we were able to quickly shift individual schools or even grade levels to remote instruction,” the letter reads. “We stayed on campus unless student and staff COVID numbers made it impossible.

“This year, the rules have reverted to our not having that option of remote instruction through our CLPs; CLPs don’t exist this year. Now, if attendance and staffing reach a point where we can’t have school, we must use one of our stockpiled (inclement weather) days. COVID cases have greatly increased in Williamson County the past few weeks, and we’re experiencing it, too.”

Fairview Middle School had to close last Friday as 187 of the 560 students and 23 of the 77 faculty and other staff from the school were out due to illness. As a result, the WCS school had to use one of its stockpiled inclement weather days.

In the letter, Golden and Snowden listed a number of items regarding their concerns:

  • “Having students learning remotely when needed is more valuable than no instruction.
  • “If we run out of stockpiled days, we have an obligation to extend the school year into Spring or Summer break.
  • “A remote instruction day will be more productive than a Spring or Summer break day, with continuity of instruction from the previous day on campus and likely better attendance than a school year extended into the Summer.
  • “We have a track record of using this tool wisely.
  • “Last year, all teachers and students were given the technology needed to quickly transition to remote learning; we’re ready to do it now to address immediate, temporary needs.
  • “We succeeded last year. Based on TCAP data, both WCS and FSSD continued to be leaders in the State. Many of our schools even showed significant growth in the face of the pandemic. One of the reasons we succeeded was that we used this remote instruction tool only when we needed it. We need that tool back to continue our success this year.