Commissioner Schwinn testifies before Senate HELP Committee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State and federal officials met and discussed the next school year and what it may look like during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“As educators and students spent a spring navigating learning, we must now consider the challenges ahead with reopening school,” Education Commissioner Dr. Penny Schwinn said.
With a new school year looming, many may wonder what school will look like thanks to COVID-19. Schwinn testified before the Senate HELP Committee about reopening schools safely.
From helping students with disabilities to distance learning, senators and educators from several states discussed different issues with reopening.
“We know assistive technology will be vital for some students to be able to access distance learning. We know that in some cases, additional staff will be needed in order to be able to potentially provide services at home to students in a socially distant way,” said Education Trust President and CEO John King.
To testing of students and staff, along with providing the right personal protective equipment.
“We’ll be able to work closely with Unified Command and our Tennessee National Guard to be able to make that available for staff and students,” Schwinn said. “We’re also working to partner to provide PPE and thermometers to any school or district who wants them.”
The Tennessee Department of Education recently released a school reopening tool kit with guidelines.
“School reopening must put the health and safety of our children, their teachers and our communities at the front of their mind,” Schwinn said.
The toolkit is a guide for local decision making. It includes different ways of getting students back to school, whether it’s in person, virtual or a mix of the two.
“What we’ve found is that the per student cost for hygiene and disinfecting materials — including wipes, potential face masks, etc — is anywhere from $100 to $150 per student, depending on the decisions at the local level,” Schwinn said.
Schwinn explained funding to help students who may not be able to go back to school in person.
“A $5,000,000 compensatory education fund for our districts, a million dollars in assistive technology, and $3,000,000 plus in innovative grants so districts get support they need,” Schwinn said.
To see the school reopening guidelines and information, visit the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.