Rutherford County students worry about falling behind after district closes due to COVID-19 staff shortages


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — A fear of falling behind, it’s a dilemma many Tennessee students are facing due to COVID-19. As of last week in Rutherford County, more than 1,300 students had tested positive, with another nearly 10,000 forced to quarantine at home.

Now, students are questioning COVID procedures.

“Junior year is that year where I don’t have to apply for college, and there’s not that whole process that you’re going through so this really is your last normal year as a high school student before you start making that transition to college,” said Will Severn.

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This year, Will should be focusing on events like prom, playing on the Varsity Tennis team, and excelling in his classes, but instead, he is worried about the future of COVID-19 inside Central Magnet High School, where he attends school.

“A lot of students feel abandoned almost by the guidance, because the guidance is confusing, in some cases it’s non-existent, in some cases contradictory,” explained Severn.

Rutherford County Schools shut its doors after reporting 14 bus drivers were out for COVID-related reasons. Inside cafeterias, 55 employees were out, affecting multiple schools in the district.

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While parents and school boards across the state have been battling over masks, students say they are facing another issue.

“Do I worry about my health and stay home and quarantine, or do I go to school and do well in school?” questioned Severn.

He says students are now debating whether or not to report COVID symptoms, out of fear of falling behind in the classroom.

“I’m in AP chemistry, for example, it’s a class that I love, but I can’t be out of that class for 17 days and expect to do as well, to perform as well as my [fellow] students and to make up the work, and that’s just one class,” explained Severn.

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According to the district, “Those who are household contacts of a positive case will not be permitted to return to school for at least 17 days because of the sustained nature of the contact.”

Severn says right now, masks are optional inside Rutherford County Schools.

“I fall behind on my school work, and my grades start to drop, am I going to get into the college I want to do? And then it becomes this spiral that I myself am prone to,” said Severn.

Now, Severn is hoping the district will adopt a mandatory mask mandate in order to slow down the spread of the virus and reduce the number of students who have to quarantine. He along with fellow classmates plan on taking their concerns to the school board at the next meeting, set for Tuesday, September 7, at 5 p.m.

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