Tennessee Governor Bill Lee Recommends Schools Close for Rest of Year in Coronavirus Lockdown Extension

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee recommended that schools remain closed for the rest of the school year.

In a briefing on Wednesday evening, Governor Lee recommended that schools across the state close, but stopped short of enforcing closures. Lee said he hoped that schools would follow his recommendation, and after the briefing, counties across the state announced that they would be closing.

WVLT8 reported that Knox, Morgan, Blount, Claiborne, Campbell, Hamblen and Monroe counties announced that they would be closing their schools for the rest of the academic year.

In a tweet, Governor Lee wrote: "In order to keep every Tennessean safe during this pandemic, I am recommending that schools remain closed through the end of this school year.

"We're working with [the Tennessee Department of Education] and local leaders to ensure there is flexibility for districts to complete critical year-end activities."

Governor Bill Lee
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee speaks during the 6th Annual GMA Honors and Hall of Fame Ceremony at Allen Arena, Lipscomb University on May 8, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. Terry Wyatt/Getty

In a bulletin posted on the Tennessee government website, the state government said: "Students have lost significant learning time in their classrooms and the administration is committed to continuing to provide resources that keep our students engaged.

"Time lost in the classroom also has implications on overall well being, especially for at-risk and vulnerable student populations."

The bulletin also explains that the Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn will convene a COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force "to engage communities and provide support for students."

Schwinn retweeted Lee's announcement on Twitter and explained what the task force would do: "Proud to be a part of this work, supporting our children's wellbeing while continuing to support their academic progress.

"Over the coming weeks, we will convene a task force to consider critical issues like nutrition, health, and services to support the work our schools do every day."

Many states have already ordered schools to close for the rest of the academic year, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, according to Education Week.

California, Idaho, Maine, South Dakota, and now Tennessee, have recommended, but not ordered, that schools close for the rest of the academic year.

Some states have only closed schools temporarily with schools set to re-open this month in Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Other states have extended their school closures to May, including Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

New Jersey and North Dakota have ordered their schools to close until further notice.

Statista U.S. COVID-19 Cases
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the United States. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.