Nashville is finally rounding the corner on the pandemic. While there are still thousands of people infected, and hundreds of new cases every day, every trend is downward. This is probably a combination of holiday travel being behind us and people taking the virus more seriously after the huge spikes in cases and deaths in December. With people consistently wearing masks, and keeping our distance from each other, the spread rate is decreasing. Continuing that behavior until the vaccine is widespread is critical to keeping the trends down. It is like being protected from the rain by an umbrella. We are dry under the umbrella, but it is still raining, and we can’t take the umbrella down until the rain stops. That happens when almost everyone has the vaccine. Nashville has put a very effective distribution plan in place, limited only by the number of vaccines that are delivered from the state weekly. That number is increasing as more vaccines are approved and production ramps up.
COVID Vaccinations are being given in prioritized phases. Nashville is currently in Phase 1a2 with vaccines distributed to health care workers through their employers, to long term care facilities through local pharmacies, and to people over 75 by appointment only at several clinics. Appointments can be made on-line at asafenashville.org or by calling 615-862-7777. There is “standby list” to ensure no coronavirus vaccine doses are wasted. To enter, email COVID19VaccineStandby@nashville.gov daily with your name and phone number. Those who are selected for the leftover vaccines will be picked daily at random and called at 2:30 p.m. Those who enter must be able to get to the the clinic located at the Music City Center within 30 minutes of the drawing. Parking is free for those with appointments at Music City Center, and will be in parking structure 2. They will have golf carts and wheelchairs to help anyone who needs assistance.
If anyone has any concerns about the need for or the safety of the vaccine, I recommend Dr. Hildreth’s Public Service Announcement regarding the vaccine here here..
Interim Health Director, Dr. Gill Wright, also has helpful information about the vaccine in a letter he sent to the Council recently:
“We hope to move to Phase 1b in early to mid-February. That phase includes K-12 teachers and staff, both public and private, and childcare facilities staff. We would anticipate moving into Phase 1c around the end of March or April. That phase includes everyone 16 years old and older with at least one high-risk comorbidity. We anticipate this category to be quite large, perhaps as much as a third of the population of the county. “
Students will begin returning to MNPS classrooms as soon as the first week of February, with the next phase of students coming back the next week, as community health conditions now allow for a safe return.
The schedule for students to return to classrooms, for those parents who chose the in-person option and contingent upon continued success in containing the spread of COVID-19, will be as follows:
- Thursday, February 4: Students with special needs who attend contracted special-day schools
- Tuesday, February 9: Grades Pre-K-4 and students with exceptional needs
- Thursday, February 18: Grades 5 and 9, transition grades for middle and high schools
- Thursday, February 25: Grades 6, 7, and 8
- Wednesday, March 3 : Grades 10, 11, and 12
The day before each group returns will be an asynchronous learning day with no live instruction for those students to allow staff time for preparation.
To create even safer working and learning environments, the district is adopting safety protocols in addition to those announced in the fall, which included a mask mandate for all students and staff, physical distancing whenever possible, additional cleaning measures by contracted custodial staff, and supplies of PPE such as masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies for teachers and staff.
Additional measures will include a testing protocol developed through a partnership with Meharry Medical College that will use rapid tests offered through the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, as well as PCR tests conducted through labs at Meharry. COVID-19 compliance monitoring and support will also be offered through this partnership to ensure measures are being properly implemented and to recommend additional precautions that the district or schools can take based on observations and data collected on site.
The Y has received a contract extension from the Department of Human Services to continue to provide free child care to those who have been verified and approved as essential workers through March 31, 2021. Click here to sign up for care in Davidson County https://midtn.recliquecore.com/programs/50009
The Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee has opened registration for its first Transit Citizen Leadership Academy of the year. TCLA provides tools to support improved regional transit. The first academy runs from February 3, 2021, to March 10. The Academy is a thoughtfully designed opportunity for citizens to learn more about the value of transit, ways it impacts everyone’s life, how projects are chosen and funded, and how anyone can become an effective advocate for improving our city’s transit system. Each of the six classes is based on presentations and discussions led by industry experts and local leaders. On February 17th, the ‘Head Fed’ from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Pamela Kordenbrock, and Director of Multimodal Transportation at TDOT, Suzanne Carlson, will discuss funding. Then, on February 24th, a panel of three regional mayors will talk about transit impacts in the region: Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin, Mayor Randall Hutto of Wilson County, and Mayor Andy Holt of Sumner County. Attending is FREE, but you must register at the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy website.
Brush pick-up this month is scheduled to start in the following areas:
- February 3 - Area 12 - Goodlettsville, Dalemere, Bellshire
- February 10 - Area 1 – West Madison, Capital View, Douglas Park, Cleveland Park, McFerrin Park, Highland Heights
- February 17 - Area 2 – East Madison, Inglewood, Neely’s Bend, Peeler Park, Maplewood Heights, Iverson, Maxwell Heights, Edgefield, Eastwood, Shelby Bottoms, Shelby Hills, and Lockland Springs
- February 24 – Area 3 – Old Hickory, Lakewood, Hermitage, Stones River, Two Rivers, River Trace
Garbage and recycling pick-up will be shifted one day the week of President’s Day starting February 15.
The Metro Council Budget Committee has been hosting a series of webinars to provide detailed information to citizens about the budget process. These are broken into three categories – How we get the money, how we spend it, and a community panel discussion. The remaining schedule is below:
COMMUNITY PANEL DISCUSSIONS
- Feb 4, 2021 - Community Panel Discussion
- Feb 11, 2021 - Expert Panel Discussion
- Feb 18, 2021 - How the Budget Process works
- Feb 25, 2021 - Participatory Budget - Councilmember At-Large Zulfat Suara
This series of sessions will provide helpful information, and everyone is encouraged to participate as the council works through this upcoming 2021 budget year. Members of the public can watch the meetings live online here or Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, and streaming on the MNN Roku channel. Links can also be found on the Metro Council Events Calendar.
Applications are due in February for Vanderbilt’s School for Science and Math program. The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (the SSMV) is seeking highly motivated MNPS high school students who are passionate about science and math, ready to apply themselves as today’s problem solvers and interested in becoming tomorrow’s leaders. The SSMV will prepare students to successfully engage in college studies at an accelerated rate, promote the pursuit of graduate, postgraduate and professional study, and provide the strong foundation crucial for career success. The SSMV application is available to current eighth-graders and is due February 12. Teacher recommendations are required. Visit the SSMV website to learn more
There is still time to plant a tree or two before winter ends, and you can go big or incremental. The Nashville Tree Conservation Corps is winding up its large tree sale on their website. Mature trees will be delivered, planted, and watered for $200 to $300 each. Those who want to spend less and are more comfortable nurturing very young trees can instead order seedlings for $2 each from TEC until March 7 at on the TEC’s website. Pick up is March 20 at several locations around the county. Trees increase property values, reduce stormwater run-off, reduce heating bills, provide wildlife habitat and food, reduce greenhouse gases, and beautify Nashville.
Nashville Community Education is in full swing this spring. For a great price, anyone can study arts, foreign language, technology, wellness, or many other subjects. To check out offerings or sign up, visit their website.
Property Tax Relief – The Housing Fund just launched the Housing Resiliency Fund, anchored by $2.5 million donation from Amazon, to help low-to-moderate income households preserve homeownership and build financial stability. Existing homeowners in zip codes 37013, 37206, 37207, 37208, 37211, 37216, and 37218 may apply for help paying this year’s increase in property taxes if they meet minimum income requirements. Homeowners can get more information and apply at The Housing Fund’s website. Donations to the fund can also be made at that web address.
Downtown Recovery – One month after the devastating bombing on Second Avenue, portions of the street are back open to pedestrians and close to being back in business. Metro Codes has inspected all the structures and turned them back over to building owners and their engineers and contractors. The buildings closest to the explosion site are still being evaluated for options to rebuild safely. The Historic Commission is working with owners and a newly formed commission of architects, historians, planners, and other experts to envision how best to preserve the historic structures while improving the streetscape and access to the riverfront. Metro Planning will be holding a series of charettes for public input. There are also fundraising efforts to help with rebuilding, sustaining impacted businesses, and rehousing residents who were displaced. To help, click here.
The Council is considering several pieces of significant legislation this month. At our meeting on February 2 we are expected to pass on final reading BL2021-594 to lower the speed limit on neighborhood streets from 30 to 25. Data show the risk of serious injury or death is cut in half at lower speeds. I have introduced Dark Skies legislation (BL2020-535) to guide design of outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution and light trespass. This is going before the Planning Commission on February 11 and going before Council for public hearing on March 2. I have also introduced BL2021-620, which will create an overlay process for neighborhoods that want to allow mother-in-law cottages, officially known as Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADU). The DADU overlay bill is on first reading at Council and will go before the Planning Commission February 25 and Council for public hearing on March 2.
Love Thy Neighborhoods Campaign – support local businesses with a sign in your yard and messages on your social media. While we wait for everyone to get the vaccine and the tourists to come back and reinvigorate our economy, those of us who are lucky enough to live in Music City are the front line to help our local artists and businesses survive. The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, which mostly works to bring visitors to Nashville, is also encouraging us local folks to help spread the word about how much fun Nashville is. Please post on your media channels, telling your followers your favorite local spots in Nashville. Think: the local coffee shop you love (Dose), favorite place to grab drinks with friends, best place to buy a special gift for someone (or yourself), beloved dive (Brown’s Diner), restaurants, etc. If you are looking to support local businesses, check out the Local Deals webpage for special offers by clicking here. I still have a few yard signs left. Please let me know if you would like one. For more information on the Love Thy Neighborhoods campaign, visit their website. Things are headed back to normal. I’m ready for it. Please let me know what is on your mind. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-383-6604.
Things are headed back to normal. I’m ready for it. Please let me know what is on your mind. You can reach me at email@example.com 615-383-6604.
Metro Council At-Large