Update Williamson: How School Districts Adapted Amid COVID-19

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Recently the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce hosted “Update Williamson,” discussing where the county stands currently, and how it is set to stand strong after COVID-19. The two-hour presentation covered education, business, and government. While many areas of the country are struggling, Williamson County is set to soar in the future. The first part of the program was focused on how the education system has adapted.

The strength of the educational systems in Williamson County has been the base of the economic development program in the county since its inception. Strong schools provide a strong knowledge base for a diversity of jobs the county will need for the future, many of which don’t even exist currently.

David Snowden, Superintendent Franklin Special School District, and Jason Golden, Superintendent William County Schools, both talked about how their systems have addressed learning during the pandemic, and how they are preparing for the years to come.

“We have compared and contrasted where we were and where we are now,” said Snowden. He is proud that their teachers have been creative while learning quickly how to teach electronically, and addressing the social and emotional needs of the children.

Snowden added, “Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Keeping connections with students personally has been the focus of Franklin Special School District teachers throughout the spring and during the summer. And the system made sure that all students have access to telecommunications. Kindergarten through second grade students have been given Chrome tablets by the system, and third through eighth grade students received Chromebooks. Families with no access to Wi-Fi have been provided with hot spots. Twenty-five percent of families have opted to have their students learn online.

Williamson County Schools have also had challenges. They are working with 49 schools. And they have only had online classes for four years for about 500 students. Suddenly, in March they had to convert that system to reach all of their students. When the students came back this fall, one teacher said it was like Christmas. They loved having the kids back in classrooms.

“Kids learn best with direct instruction with teachers,” said Golden.

Teachers have had to change how they teach, with a thought towards experiences and social distancing. Giving their students a chance to learn and be active, while introducing them to the newest ideas in science, business, technology, history, and the arts. Other students are learning remotely. Teachers are creating lesson plans that can be done remotely, on campus, and if kids are under quarantine.

Both systems have had to push forward systems and ideas that would normally take years to institute. Also, in spite of COVID, they have opened a new school, Oak View Legacy Middle School.

“There are a number of challenges,” added Golden. “Schools may look different, but we can succeed.”