Hamilton County, TN – The Hamilton County school district has announced that they will be returning to split school schedules for the remainder of this semester. This has come after a surge in Covid-19 cases and a large number of possible exposure cases.
While a hybrid learning schedule is implemented as a way to lessen the impact of the virus, parents in Hamilton County are worried about how this will affect their families and work life.
An announcement released on the Hamilton County Schools website says, “we will transition ALL grade levels (K-12) to a Phase 2 learning schedule beginning Dec. 7 through Dec. 18. Grades 9-12 will continue on the same A/B hybrid learning schedule they are following this week, and K-8 students will transition to the hybrid schedule next Monday, Dec. 7. The district will continue to evaluate and communicate our plans for the second semester on Friday, Dec. 18.”
The phase criteria comes directly from information found by the Hamilton County Health Department. Phase 3 is between 370 and 1,470 active cases.
On December first, Hamilton County had around 2,162 active cases, which put them into the criteria for phase 2.
Phase 2 means that there is a moderate risk of spreading Covid-19, with the risk increases. This phase only requires a moderate amount of mitigation, which allows students to physically be in school a few days out of the week.
Phase 1 would go into effect if there was a significant chance of Covid spreading through the school district, and this would mean every school would have to close. Students would have to do all of their work remotely.
Phase 2 learning is already putting significant strain on the parents of Hamilton County, especially single parents.
A local single mother of two, Nikki Litman, says the uncertainty of these learning schedules is hard enough with two parent households, but it is significantly harder for single parents.
Litman stated that she already lost a job over the uncertain schedule and having to make time to be at home with her son, who is only in the fifth grade.
“Unfortunately companies still need to get work done and need you to be able to fulfill your duties if working full-time without an at home option, as many companies are. So they can and will easily replace you with someone without a child, or with a more flexible schedule,” Litman said.
Even parents who are unemployed may suffer, because Tennessee residents are still being asked to seek out jobs during this time.
However, these single parents can’t commit to a job if they are going to be asked to stay home with their children during school hours.
While there are virtual learning communities that want to help these struggling families, there is still a risk of spreading Covid, and these still are not options for every parent.
The school district plans to make an announcement before winter break starts, on Dec. 18, to let parents know what the plan will be for next semester.
That plan will likely depend on what happens during the next two weeks.