Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced this afternoon the states recommendations to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Any student, teacher or school staff testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves at home for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or 10 days from the date their test was done if they never developed symptoms. The fever must be gone and they must be feeling better for at least 24 hours.
- Anyone who has been within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 10 minutes or more must quarantine themselves at home for 14 days from the last time they were with that person. These time periods do not change with a doctor’s note or with a negative test.
Keeping schools open for in-person instruction depends upon the ability to quickly isolate people who are sick and quarantine their close contacts. If a child is ill, parents should not send them to school where they could infect others. If a child is diagnosed with COVID-19, parents are asked to help the Department of Health by contacting the child’s close contacts so those individuals can quarantine at home. If a parent is notified that their child has been in close contact of someone with COVID- 19, quarantine them at home for 14 days. It is critical that children receive regular check-ups and have their immunizations up to date.
“Whether it be in-person or virtual, we want parents to have a choice in their child’s education. For those who choose the virtual option, the State will provide free resources to supplement their district’s school-based services,” said Governor Lee. The resources include:
- Early Literacy Resource: A free resource for students pre-K through 2nd grade to build foundational skills and support early literacy;
- PBS Learning Series: Complete lessons for 1st- 9th grade students in both math and ELA taught by Tennessee teachers;
- STEAM Resource Hub: Three challenges per week to spark creative thinking, design, and career exploration from the home;
- Start of the Year Checkpoint: A free and optional assessment to measure student performance at the beginning of the year and help inform educators about student readiness for the year ahead;
Devices and connectivity will be critical resources to ensure quality remote learning this school year. A $50 million grant initiative to support district technology purchases is now available and is intended to increase student access to one-to-one instructional devices such as laptops or tablets.
The governor also addressed supporting teachers
“The state is providing no-cost PPE, including face masks for any school stakeholder who wants or needs one, thermometers for every school, and face shields for every staff member. This includes 298,000 cloth reusable masks for teachers, and 27 million disposable masks for students distributed by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency,” said Governor Lee.
Every classroom teacher will have a full-year classroom disinfecting kit to use so no teacher pays for these materials out of their own pockets. The kits include hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, gloves and masks. School nurses will be provided with surgical masks, gloves, protective gowns, and face shields.
In regards to high school sports, Governor Lee said he will issue Executive Order 55 to allow for contact sports to resume, provided they follow the requirements of TSSAA. Non-TSSAA schools must follow equivalent guidelines, and non-school-sponsored athletics should follow the Tennessee Pledge guidelines.