Other Tennessee counties recognize teachers as essential, so should Hamilton County do so as well?
Hamilton County, TN – The Hamilton County School Board met on Monday night and voiced their concerns about policies such as the identification of teachers as essential workers.
There is currently a policy change proposal in consideration that would give the superintendent discretion to allow essential employees to continue working after being exposed to a communicable virus.
This policy change indicates that the essential worker would have to be asymptomatic, test negative for viral infection, and cannot perform their normal functions remotely.
However, there is some confusion as to who essential workers are in the school system.
Some counties in Tennessee identify teachers as essential workers, but Hamilton County specifically does not.
School board members sought to clear up the confusion Monday night.
“Essential workers, is that referring to central office personnel? Is it referring to teachers?”, asked School Board Member Steve Highlander.
“It’s a very vague policy as who does it apply to and I think that’s been some of the miscommunication that we’ve received about it, just making sure it’s real clear about who this will apply to.”, said School Board Member Tucker McClendon.
The Hamilton County School Board wants clarity on who essential workers are in the policy before moving forward with the proposed change.
School officials say that the essential worker identification is for non-classroom employees only, not teachers.
The White House declared teachers to be essential workers back in August, with the administration specifically explaining that teachers are encouraged to continue working even after exposure to COVID-19.
Hamilton County will reconsider the wording of the proposed virus-related essential worker policy change on Thursday.
As of now, Hamilton County does not view their teachers as essential.