Tennessee School District to Shut Down for Entire Week Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

A school district in Tennessee plans to shut down all schools for an entire week amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The Wilson County School District in middle Tennessee announced on Friday that they will close down next week, with a plan to reopen on Tuesday, September 7.

The district said in the announcement that the closure was, "Due to the continued strong surge in recent positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines."

The announcement also noted that during the week that the school will close down, no remote learning will take place, "therefore there will be no teaching and learning expectations during this time."

"This will provide the district 10 total days to help slow the current trend of positive cases and quarantines. During this period, our buildings and buses will receive thorough cleanings," the district said in the announcement. "While it's not our desire to issue this closure, we do strongly feel that this closure is necessary based on our current attendance trends among students, teachers and staffs. We sincerely ask that all our families, students, teachers and staffs practice safe health methods during this time. We care deeply about every one of you, and we're hopeful that by taking this time away from our schools, it will allow us to slow this unfortunate trend."

In addition to the Wilson County School District, the Rutherford County School District announced earlier this week that three schools will close down next week "because of staffing related to COVID-19."

WSMV-TV in Nashville reported that Rutherford County Schools Communications Director James Evans said that shutting down the schools next week, "will allow several staff members who are on quarantine to clear those quarantines and return to operate the classrooms."

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past month, Tennessee has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and they are currently averaging around 4,400 new cases per day. Comparatively, in mid-July, the state was reporting an average of around 500 to 1,000 new daily cases.

CDC data also shows that less than 50 percent of Tennessee's population are considered fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order allowing parents to opt their kids out of a school's mask mandate.

"Right now, some of the greatest frustration is occurring in our K-12 schools, especially around the issue of mask mandates. While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important," Lee said in a statement. "No one cares more about the health and well-being of a child than a parent. I am signing an executive order today that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district."

Newsweek reached out to the Wilson County School District for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

COVID-19 in schools
A school district in Tennessee plans to shut down for an entire week due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. Above, a student's name is written on a desk at Freedom Preparatory Academy as teachers begin to prepare to restart school after it was closed in March due to COVID-19 on August 13, 2020 in Provo, Utah. George Frey/Getty