Yet another Tennessee school district has announced a temporary closure due to COVID-19. Sumner County Schools will close from Sept. 7-10 (next week) in order to attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. The move comes as the Lee Administration continues to insist that children should be in school and is failing to cooperate with districts seeking remote learning options. As with other districts closing due to COVID, stockpiled inclement weather days will be used. To be clear: There will be no in-person instruction and no online/remote learning. Schools are simply closed.
The move also comes as health officials report that Tennessee has the highest rate of COVID infections in children in the nation:
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That’s how one school district leader described Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s recent statements on learning loss as a result of school schedule changes related to COVID-19. Chalkbeat has more:
Pre-pandemic test data analyzed by national researchers — not recent back-to-school test results from Tennessee students — was the basis for state projections this week that proficiency rates will drop by 50% or more for third-grade reading and math due to schooling disruptions during the pandemic.
Schwinn had said her estimates were informed by back-to-school testing data that was voluntarily shared by some Tennessee school districts, combined with national study and analysis by two groups. But asked later for details, members of her staff referred only to “national researchers using historical, Tennessee-specific data.” That data dates from 2014 to 2019, before the coronavirus emerged in the U.S.
Numerous superintendents said Schwinn’s comments were misleading in suggesting that recent homegrown data was taken into account in formulating the state’s projections.
“This is about doing your homework,” said Leah Watkins, superintendent of Henry County Schools in West Tennessee. “Before the state releases numbers to millions of Tennesseans, let’s make sure it’s accurate and shared with appropriate context.”
She called the presentation a “gross misrepresentation” that left out important facts.
“It sends a message to the public of gloom and doom — that what we’re doing in our public schools is not adequate,” Watkins said.