Metro Nashville Schools get ultimatum from parent group on reopening

    A member of a group called
    A member of a group called "Let Nashville Parents Choose" speaks vehemently at a Dec. 9 rally outside the offices of Metro Nashville Public Schools. Members of the group urged MNPS to fully reopen in January. (Photo: John Partipilo)

    A group of Nashville parents has given Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) officials an ultimatum for releasing plans to reopen schools and allowing Metro Public School families the choice of in-person learning. 

    The MNPS Board will meet on Jan. 26. and the group, Let Nashville Parents Choose (LNPC), is asking school officials to discuss the reopening of Metro Nashville public schools as soon as possible. LNPC, a coalition of Middle Tennessee parents, has advocated for families to have the choice of in-person school since last year and is now petitioning MNPS to release a plan for reopening schools by Feb. 1. 

    “(MNPS) still has neither the will nor an adequate plan to reopen all schools. We fear that Mayor Cooper will continue to sit out any discussions, planning or push to open schools,” stated LNPC in a press release.

    Cooper responded in a statement from press secretary Andrea Fanta.

    Mayor John Cooper cares deeply about Nashville’s students and supports a return to the classroom as quickly and as safely as possible.”

    Although COVID-19 cases have risen to an all-time high, LNPC cited UNICEF and the World Health Organization as having guidelines for the safe reopening of schools, adding that schools are essential and do not contribute to the community spread of COVID-19. 

    LNPC understands this is an incredibly complicated and difficult time for our school system, our city and our country.  We trust the preponderance of public health research and data say we can open safely,”  said Jennifer Claxton and Nicole Corey, spokespersons for the group. 

    The decision to stall the reopening of Metro public schools has been criticized since private schools have not had the same restrictions, with LNPC advocates adding that Mayor John Cooper and the head of the Metro COVID taskforce, Dr. Alex Jahangir,  have children attending  private schools. 

    Although recognizing that virtual learning has improved since March 2020, LNPC advocates  for transparency from Metro officials in the process of reopening schools in their statement.

    “We recognize that MNPS senior leaders and the Board all are doing what they think is safest and best for children and staff. However, in this rapidly changing pandemic, the science and guidance has changed dramatically to favor opening schools,” group leaders wrote in a statement. 

    “And we 100% support the right of parents and families who prefer virtual learning (due to medical reasons or any other reason) to continue to have that option through at least this school year, or however it longs it takes to roll out the vaccine and end this pandemic.  We also support the right of every teacher with a medical reason to work from home as long as necessary,” added Claxton and Corey.