TN Education Assn., Democratic house leaders concerned with school reopening guidelines

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) – The governor’s plan for re-opening schools is getting criticized by some state leaders.

Governor Bill Lee said in-person learning is the medically sound, preferred option for the new school year. He outlined guidelines for reopening schools like the need to quarantine when someone at a school tests positive and having contact tracing to help keep the virus from spreading.

Gov. Lee unveils state’s guidelines for reopening Tennessee schools

Representative Mike Stewart, the House Democratic Caucus Chairman said everyone should be concerned with the Governor’s plan.

“Even though it’s something we’d all like to do – get our children back into school, given the administration’s track record we should be very concerned that we’re not prepared to do this, that this is a decision being pushed by politics. I see nothing to reassure the public that we are really ready to get these kids back to school safely,” said Representative Stewart.

The State Democratic Party chairman released the following statement:

Governor Lee’s plan to reopen schools in Tennessee does not follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The details of his executive order for reopening, which comes in the middle of a coronavirus surge with almost 95,000 cases and 965 Tennesseans dead, makes it clear that he is still ignoring CDC guidelines and the advice of medical experts. And in his push to reopen, he’s also ignoring the pleas from teachers who are begging for the continuation of remote learning until the spread of the virus is under control.

Lee’s executive order includes resuming contact sports even though sixteen percent of cases of the coronavirus in Tennessee are under the age of 20 and not even professional baseball can’t get through a week of play without spreading the virus. He also doesn’t guarantee that families will be told of cases in individual schools or that everyone in the same class as a confirmed case will be quarantined, both of which are in conflict with CDC guidelines. Lee also ignores the number one consideration outlined by the CDC, that schools should only reopen if transmission rates in the community are under control.

Governor Lee called school reopening an “experiment. The lives of children, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators are nothing to experiment with.

Mary Mancini, TNDP Chairwoman

The Tennessee Education Association also responded to the Governor’s guidelines for schools.

“It is quite alarming to think of bringing large groups of people together into a school setting, even if you have students staying in one group. I know as a high school teacher with a class load of about 32 students in a class there’s no way to meet the social distancing guidelines that are suggested by the CDC,” TEA President Beth Brown told News 2.

Read the TEA’s complete response 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.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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