MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) – Hamblen County Schools will delay the start of the fall semester to September, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry confirmed Friday.

Fall semester at Hamblen County Schools will now begin on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The school year was originally set to begin on Friday, July 31. Perry said in a letter to parents that a decision on whether classes will be in-person, online or a hybrid model will be made in August.

Hamblen County currently has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. The county was recently one of several counties considered in the “red zone,” according to a White House document regarding COVID-19 cases.

It has had 793 coronavirus cases, according to statistics released by Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Health.

Perry said in a statement that a significant number of employees had been directly exposed to someone with COVID-19 and he anticipates several staff members may test positive for the virus. He also expressed concern that the ratio of students to teachers would not allow classrooms to be properly socially-distanced.

The superintendent said the school district does not currently have enough computers to provide each student with their own laptop in the event they decide to go to an online-only teaching model. New computers are scheduled to arrive in early August.

“We made the decision to open after Labor Day because this would be the first day that we could realistically provide most of our students with the new computers and could implement a district-wide online program. We will make the decision whether we go fully online, fully in class, or utilize a hybrid model later in August.”

Hamblen County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry

This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available.