Tennessee educators, state leaders work to reach consensus on reopening schools


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday, Governor Bill Lee unveiled the State of Tennessee’s recommendations for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. 

State guidelines recommend things like 10 to 14-day absence periods for students who have been exposed to COVID-19, parents assisting with contact tracing, and virtual learning options for students.  

“We have had regular communication multiple times a week for months on end to prepare for these days,” Governor Lee said. “So we are especially thankful for the work of the districts who have developed plans and are ready to reopen their schools.” 

Although counties will ultimately decide how and when to return to school, some have concerns about students returning to in-person learning. 

“It’s dangerous, it puts lives at risk,” said Dr. Stephen Heyman, pulmonary critical care physician at Ascension Saint Thomas. 

Dr. Heyman has not only seen COVID-19 as a physician, but contracted the virus himself in June.  

“As a physician who’s had COVID-19 and is recovering at home on oxygen and had raspatory failure and knows what this disease looks like,” Dr. Heyman said. “It’s not just limited to a small illness.” 

Parents admit they have concerns over sending their children back to school, although, they do think the state needs to have a plan.  

“I think his recommendation that we have contact tracing is definitely needed,” parent Quincy McKnight said. “I think that the kids need to have some separation. I think that we need to have a plan in place.”  

Even though many children have milder cases of COVID-19, physicians say other populations are at stake.  

“If they go back to thier home and they spread it within the family, that just provides fuel for the fire, and that’s the danger,” Dr. Heyman said.  

Yet, Governor Lee asserts children across Tennessee deserve in-person learning options. 

To find a complete list of recommendations, click here.  

News 2 digs deeper into how schools are moving forward safely for the new academic year. See how other districts around Middle Tennessee are handling everything from classroom concerns to the future of sports in our special series. Click here to see more.

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