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‘Tone deaf’ back-to-school video by Tennessee schooling chief criticized amid COVID outbreaks

NASHVILLE — A video shared Tuesday by the Tennessee Division of Training celebrating the return to high school drew sharp criticism throughout social media. 

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The 41-second video options schooling commissioner Penny Schwinn, who shares her personal recollections of excitedly beginning faculty as a kindergartner. 

“All of our college students — 1 million of them — throughout the state of Tennessee are beginning the varsity yr proper now,” Schwinn mentioned. “The scent of latest books, clear hallways, the power and feeling of being again in school rooms with their associates and their academics. It is such a particular time, and I’m so excited for our state.” 

a person looking at the camera: A video featuring Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn drew sharp criticism across social media on Tuesday.

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A video that includes Tennessee Division of Training Commissioner Penny Schwinn drew sharp criticism throughout social media on Tuesday.

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She then requested dad and mom to share tales about why they’re excited for the brand new faculty yr within the feedback. 

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The video obtained swift suggestions from dad and mom and academics experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, quarantines and a rising variety of faculties already closing because the virus spreads. As of Wednesday, Tennessee was averaging a record-setting 2,330 infections per day amongst school-age youngsters, age 5 to 18, in response to state information.


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“How tone deaf do you must be to ask dad and mom to ‘share their tales’?” commenter Joshua Allen mentioned on Fb. “Are you that clueless as to what’s actually taking place in TN faculties? Or do you simply not care? This can be a nightmare.”

Tennessee Gov. Invoice Lee not too long ago issued an government order requiring Okay-12 faculties to permit dad and mom to opt-out of face masks mandates. A number of the state’s largest faculty districts, together with Metro Nashville Public Faculties and Shelby County Faculties, have saved their masks mandates regardless of Lee’s order.

Lee’s order is now a part of a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Division of Training. Investigators are working to find out if Tennessee’s new rule discriminates in opposition to college students who’re at a heightened threat for extreme sickness from COVID-19.

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A number of commenters mentioned they despatched their youngsters again to high school after spending the final 18 months being cautious and avoiding the virus — solely to have their youngsters uncovered or contaminated inside just a few weeks. Different pointed to the deaths of academics who they are saying bought COVID-19 whereas educating. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the schooling division had disabled new feedback on the video on Fb and Twitter.

A spokesperson for the division didn’t return a request for a remark Wednesday. 

‘Cease appearing like issues are OK’

Whereas just a few optimistic feedback have been peppered into the reactions to the video, the bulk throughout Fb and Twitter have been destructive. 

Twitter consumer Abby Mason chimed in, saying her daughter examined optimistic for COVID-19 10 days after returning to high school. 

“Cease appearing like issues are OK,” Mason mentioned in a tweet. “For the fortunate ones which have gotten to go to high school day-after-day, it’s been a large number. For these, like us which have needed to FaceTime faculty with their baby as a result of they’re remoted, it has been brutal. And, for these really struggling, that is offensive.”

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The response to the video comes as dad and mom, docs, pastors and well being care consultants name for common masking in Okay-12 faculties, particularly as youngsters underneath 12 aren’t but in a position to be vaccinated.

President Joe Biden not too long ago criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for blocking masks mandates not solely in faculties, however statewide. 

“Some governors aren’t keen to do the appropriate issues to make this occur,” Biden mentioned final month. “I say to those governors, please assist. In the event you aren’t going to assist, no less than get out of the way in which of the people who find themselves making an attempt to do the appropriate factor. Use your energy to avoid wasting lives.”

Academics and oldsters within the feedback added to the decision for stricter COVID-19 security measures and clear procedures in Tennessee faculties. The state not too long ago clarified its expectations for quarantine procedures, together with addressing confusion over whether or not faculties are allowed to maneuver courses on-line if wanted. 

“Comfortable discuss is not going to maintain our youngsters safely in class this yr,” Alli Finney wrote on Twitter. “We’d like actual insurance policies in place to maintain faculties open with wholesome youngsters. Testing, common masking, vaccinations, air flow.”

Discover reporter Rachel Wegner on Twitter @rachelannwegner.

This text initially appeared on Nashville Tennessean: ‘Tone deaf’ back-to-school video by Tennessee schooling chief criticized amid COVID outbreaks

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