Health & Safety Plan

Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan

The following webpage has been adapted for accessibility purposes from the Tennessee Department of Education's Health and Safety Plan document. Translations are available by clicking at the top left corner of the website and choosing the preferred language. 

Addendums are added at the bottom of the page. 

Students raising their hands in a classroom

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 3.0 (ESSER 3.0) Fund under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, Public Law 117-2, enacted on March 11, 2021. ARPA ESSER Funding provides a total of nearly $122 billion to states and local educational agencies (LEAs) to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s students. In addition to ARP ESSER Funding, ARP includes $3 billion for special education, $850 million for the Outlying Areas, $2.75 billion to support non-public schools, and additional funding for homeless children and youth, Tribal educational agencies, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives.

LEAs must develop and make publicly available a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan that meets the following requirements within 30 days of receiving ARP ESSER allocation. If an LEA developed a plan before ARP was enacted that does not address the requirements, the LEA must revise its plan no later than six months after it last reviewed its plan. All plans must be developed with meaningful public consultation with stakeholder groups (i.e., families, students, teachers, principals, school and district administrators, school leaders, other educators, school staff, advocacy organizations representing student groups). The consultation process must include an opportunity for input and meaning consideration of that input. ARP ESSER plans to be in an understandable and uniform format; to the extent practicable, written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable, orally translated; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability, provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. All plans must be made publicly available on the LEA’s website and published on the Tennessee Department of Education’s (department) website within thirty (30) days.

Please note that LEAs need to update the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan at least every six months through September 30, 2023, and must seek public input on the plan and any revisions, and must take such input into account. All revisions must include an explanation and rationale of why the revisions were made. Questions in this health plan were developed by the US Department of Education.

Consultation with Stakeholders

1. Describe how the LEA will, in planning for the use of ARP ESSER funds, engage in meaningful consultation with stakeholders, including, but not limited to:

i. students;
ii. families;
iii. school and district administrators (including special education administrators); and
iv. teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions.
v. tribes;
vi. civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations); and
vii. stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students.

Answer: MNPS used a combination of methods to gather and collect stakeholder feedback from meetings, virtual engagement sessions, and a survey. Each of the stakeholder groups listed above were invited to attend engagement sessions and provided access to the survey. The Health and Safety Plan outlined below was developed in consultation with the Metro Nashville Health Department. MNPS leadership meets regularly with the Metro Nashville Health Department.


2. Provide an overview of how the public stakeholder input was considered in the development of the LEA’s plan for ARP ESSER funds.

Answer: Metro Schools used the feedback collected through engagement with all stakeholders listed in question 1 above to review against existing budget items and proposals to determine if there were any gaps and additional opportunities. 


3. How did the LEA compile feedback during the open comment period for the ARP Plan?

Answer: MNPS held informational engagement sessions and collected survey responses that included both ranked choice and open-ended questions to inform the ESSER plans.


4. How was the input considered during the open comment period time? 

Answer: Input was considered by reviewing the comments and checking them against our existing plans to ensure that our final plans aligned with the input from stakeholders when feasible based on best practices for the use of one-time federal funds. 


Safe Return to In-Person Instruction

5. Describe to the extent to which the LEA has adopted policies and a description of any such policies on each of the following health and safety strategies:

  • universal and correct wearing of masks;
  • physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding);
  • hand washing and respiratory etiquette;
  • cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities,
  • including improving ventilation;
  • contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine;
  • diagnostic and screening testing;
  • efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible; and
  • appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies.

Answer: MNPS plays a critical role in the health and well-being of students, families, and the community. In recognition of this important role and responsibility, COVID-19 policies, protocols and procedures have been developed and continued to be revised as new guidance is released. In addition, MNPS supports implementation of all policies, protocols and procedures to ensure fidelity in support of safe and healthy learning and work environments for our students and staff.  All policies are created in consultation with, and based upon the recommendations of, the Metro Public Health Department and CDC guidance.  

To safely keep schools open, the CDC recommends "a layered mitigation strategy." MNPS adheres to this recommendation by including multiple interventions to reduce risk in our plan.  MNPS has asked all members of the school community, including staff, students, families, visitors, and others, to be vigilant in implementing the following mitigation strategies:  

  • Consistent and correct use of mask, social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and cleaning and disinfecting.   
  • MNPS encourages schools to promote physical distancing and limit large gatherings to the greatest extent possible, along with cohorting of students through assigned seating in classrooms and on buses when feasible.  
    MNPS limits visitors to our facilities to those visiting for educational purposes.  
  • Other layers of mitigation strategies include offering and encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, as well as contact tracing and regular testing by our school nurses to help protect against COVID-19 transmission. 
    MNPS has adopted a universal mask policy for students and employees, and the district provides masks to all students and staff and provides guidance and support for correct usage [note: the Governor of Tennessee has sought to void universal masking policies through Executive Order 84. MNPS is continuing with our policies to the extent allowed by law.] 
  • MNPS offers the ability for families to seek a medical modification to the mask policy when medically necessary.  
    MNPS has fully-funded our school nurse program and is working to employ a full-time nurse in every traditional school in MNPS.  The nurse is responsible for testing students and employees when consent is provided, handling contact tracing and providing initial guidance for students and staff.  
  • Guidance to schools also includes cohorting students in classrooms, while dining in the cafeteria, and while at recess. Seating charts are utilized for all students in common areas such as classrooms, cafeteria, gym, auditorium, etc.) In addition, schools were given modified classroom layouts to ensure social distancing of 3 feet or more is supported.  
  • In MNPS, when COVID-19 cases are suspected or identified, school administrators contact the school nurse immediately to initiate the investigation process. The school provides a list of identified close contacts, seating charts and rosters. The school nurse is responsible for contact tracing and assisting with notifying close contacts to provide quarantine and isolation notification/protocol letters to impacted families.  If the notification occurs after hours, the after-hour hotline nurse will assist with the contact tracing process. The school nurse documents the outcome of the investigation (names of those quarantined, length of quarantine, etc.). The school nurse provides ongoing support and consultation. As a reminder, our School Nurse program is a partnership with the Metro Public Health Department which develops quarantine protocols based on the latest CDC guidance.  
  • MNPS offers diagnostic and screening support to schools. All schools have access to a no contact thermometer assessment monitor and rapid test available to symptomatic and/or exposed staff and students.  Should a student or staff member present COVID-19 symptoms, school nurses may administer these tests at schools and the Support Hub, with proper consent.  
  • MNPS collaborated with the Metro Public Health Department, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and other community health partners to promote information about the vaccine and opportunities for students, staff, and families to get vaccinated. We have utilized our MNPS facilities for vaccination sites and will work with health officials to offer the vaccine to students under the age of 12 once approved by the FDA.   
  • We have provided guidance to families, and signage in schools, about following CDC recommendations for strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  
  • MNPS custodial staff utilize the current CDC guidelines and industry standards for cleaning which have been and will be updated as new guidelines are released.  
  • Following the CDC recommendations, MNPS is working to provide new and upgraded HVAC systems that will recirculate air, create more air-changes per hour and increase the level fresh outdoor air in some of our facilities in need. Utilizing a greater MERV rated filter in these systems, MNPS will also provide enhanced cleaning of air by removing more particulate matter from the air. The level of HVAC improvements will enhance the interior environment of our schools and allow for more comfort, improved air quality and support the educational performance of staff and students. 

Continuity of Services Plan

6. How the LEA will ensure continuity of services including but not limited to services to address the students’ academic needs, and students’ and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services.

Answer: In response to needs resulting from COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to continue to provide consistent and equitable services and support that move us closer to eliminating inequities and providing a high-quality educational experience for all students, every day regardless of the mode of learning. MNPS will ensure continuity of services to address students' academic needs, and students' and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, such as student health and food services. See examples below. 

  • As an expansion of Navigator individual informal check-ins for all students, MNPS has implemented an SEL competency self-assessment check-in weekly through the Sown to Grow platform with all students. The students' Navigator provides feedback to students weekly and engages in a monthly in-depth check-in to discuss specific needs and set goals for academics, SEL and transition needs. 
  • The comprehensive school counseling program and social work program coordinate efforts to continue to support staff, students, and families with mental health supports. Counselors and social workers implement classroom lessons, conduct small group counseling session, and provide individual and crisis counseling and support. MNPS assist families with subsistence needs such as clothing, food, etc. through the backpack program, food and clothes pantries, HERO program (McKinney-Vento/ homeless), and other district and community partner resources. 
  • Through the MNPS Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process, students are identified for academic or behavioral supports early on and will be assigned to academic/ behavioral interventions or a collaborative referral for wrap around support such as counseling services or needed resources. 
  • Support Hub support teams provide consultation services, direct services, tools/resources, and professional learning to address needs of students. Behavior Analysts, trauma-informed specialists, social emotional coaches, and restorative practices specialists support opportunities for educators to better equip them with implementing best practices school-wide and in the classroom. 
  • Students in Pre-Kindergarten have access to Pyramid essential elements, a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices for promoting young children's healthy social and emotional development in the early stages of development. Students in elementary schools have access to an Advocacy Center, led by an advocacy center coach. Students in our middle and high schools have access to a Restorative Practices Assistant. All levels of support provide on demand support for students experiencing an immediate crisis, in need of dysregulation, or experiencing behavioral challenges so that he/she can return to the educational environment as soon as possible, ready to learn. 
  • Schools maintain a focus on integrating social emotional learning. All schools continue to receive professional learning on restorative practices and RTI-B - both tier I approaches to providing academic and behavioral supports to set the culture for learning. With integration, schools incorporate skills into academic lessons by using the SEL I Can Statements and Indicators, providing Mindful Minutes each day, and community gathering opportunities to build community and culture of belonging. 
  • Community Support Hubs (formally Virtual Help Centers) have expanded to provide our families and community members with access to expanded on-demand wrap around services and support to include help with new enrollments, food distribution, access to learning platforms for students in quarantine/virtual school, social emotional/mental health and wellness support through internal and external social services access. 
  • MNPS Student Health team continues to implement COVID-19 health precaution guidance and supports to schools including professional learning opportunities, contact tracing and consultation support. Services will be expanded to include additional staff to assist schools with contact tracing protocols, mitigation strategies, and other needs. 
  • To assist our staff with life and work issues, MNPS provides a no-cost, unlimited visit employee assistance program to all staff and members of their household.  In addition, through our teachers’ health plan, educators are provided behavioral health services at no cost – both virtually and in-person.  Our onsite medical centers are patient-centered medical homes providing primary care, mental health (psychiatric nurse practitioners), physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture services, health coaching, and fitness – all at no cost to our employees and their dependents.  We also provide covid19 testing at our central health center along with care support for all those identified through our clinics as positive for COVID-19.  Lastly, we have increased screening for depression and social determinants of health during medical visits. 
  • MNPS is taking advantage of the USDA waivers allowing the school-year usage of the Seamless Summer Option program to ensure that all students of all income levels can access high-quality, nutritious breakfasts and lunches.  When appropriate the district partners with a variety of community partners to enable food distribution to families to help meet community needs beyond the scope of school nutrition program.
  • In addition, to ensure continuity of learning in the event a student must quarantine or self-isolate, MNPS has created procedures in alignment with State Board of Education rules that allow for students to access classwork remotely through the Schoology platform and seek additional support via appointment through the MNPS Virtual School during their quarantine period. Students who actively participate and complete assignments can be counted present for the school day. 
  • MNPS is prohibited by State rules from allowing remote learning opportunities through traditional schools as was provided in the 2020-21 school year. We have offered students the opportunity to apply to the already established MNPS Virtual School at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.