By Dave Barkholz

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Local parents overwhelmingly said they intend to send their kids back to Dickson County Schools this fall, just not by bus.
The district received almost 3,200 responses to a short survey last month asking parents if they planned to return their children to school on August 3. Just 8% of respondents, or 265 families, said they would not.
Another 900 said they would be interested in hearing more about online options that the district is offering in the fall, said Director Danny Weeks at a special session of the Dickson County Board of Education Monday.
Weeks said school districts nationally are seeing on average a 10% reduction in students coming back. Dickson County Schools has about 8,300 students at 16 schools.
Weeks reiterated that it is the district’s intention to start on August 3rd with a full, five-day classroom schedule with children and staff encouraged but not required to wear masks.
Oddly, most parents said they wouldn’t be sending their kids to school by bus this year. Fully 63% answered no when asked if they intended to use bus service.
That’s a huge departure from past practice. About 6,000 children, or three quarters of the 8,300 in the district, rode buses last year.
Reduced ridership might reduce crowding on buses, a big concern of the district at a time when social-distancing is still encouraged.
Fully-loaded buses hold about 85 kids. But with six feet of proper social-distancing, that number drops to less than 30 or one kid per seat with intermittent rows left empty.
The district Tuesday sent to parents a list of frequently asked questions about the upcoming school year.
In addition to starting classes August 3 and making masks optional, the district also intends to offer childcare and before and after-school care.
Students will be encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well, relaxing to a degree the big emphasis that the district has placed on everyday attendance as in the past.

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