In a press conference held at Mt. Juliet High School on March 9, Wilson County Schools announced plans for the remainder of the school year on Monday after a tornado damaged Stoner Creek Elementary and West Wilson Middle schools. No plans have been announced for what will happen at the end of the school year.
Director of Wilson County Schools Donna Wright said that while there is shock and anger about the destruction left by the tornado, she is thankful it didn’t happen earlier in the day, while students and teachers were in school, as there would have been many more fatalities.
In an effort retain some sense of normalcy for students, WCS determined the best course of action is to go into split shifts at surrounding schools. This action has previously been successful within the county. Stoner Creek will split the school day with Springdale Elementary while West Wilson will split with Mt. Juliet Middle School. Each school will meet in four-hour blocks.
By moving to split shifts, the students at the impacted schools will stay together and have the same teachers.
Stoner Creek will meet from 6:45 to 10:45 a.m. at Springdale Elementary’s campus while Springdale will hold classes from 12-4 p.m.
Mt. Juliet Middle School will meet from 8 a.m. until noon, while West Wilson will use the MJMS campus from 1-5 p.m.
In the days following the storms, Wright said she received many suggestions about what to do, including dividing the students among multiple schools. She said that while that suggestion was well intended, WCS does not “sort and distribute” their students. Keeping them together allows students the chance to get through this transition together, surrounded by friends and teachers they are familiar with.
The need for students to have a normal, structured routine will be necessary in helping them overcome the stress of such a traumatic event, even for those whose families were not directly impacted by the storms. Addressing the teachers in attendance, Wright encouraged them to love their students and to be nurturing and sensitive to their needs.
WCS will also offer before/after-school care, and they are working to provide this with no expense for parents. The before-school program will be available for the children in the second shift of the day. For example, Springdale students can come to school during the first shift, staying with the before-school program, and then go to their normal classes once the Stoner Creek shift is complete. The same goes for Stoner Creek; those students can move from their shift into the after-school program.
New traffic plans will be announced for Mt. Juliet Middle and West Wilson, and Stoner Creek parents are encouraged to check Springdale’s website for their traffic pattern. The traffic for MJMS will affect parent traffic at Elzie D. Patton Elementary as the afternoon pickup line will not start before 1:30 p.m. The district asks for patience in acclimating to the new traffic patterns and schedules.
District-wide, all field trips will be suspended for the remainder of the school year, with the exception of career day and Special Olympics. The district did say, however, that they will accommodate academic competitions and athletic trips. Spring sports will go on.
For more information about the new schedules, or to submit any questions to WCS, visit the district’s website at www.wcschools.com.