Coronavirus in Tennessee: Parents, students, educators react to governor’s school closure recommendation


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee announced he recommended school districts close for the rest of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement is just a recommendation, but the governor expects school systems across Tennessee will close.

On Wednesday, several local school systems announced they will not reopen for the rest of the school year.

What do parents, educators and students think of Gov. Lee’s recommendation? WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel found out.

“It’s definitely heart-breaking just because we worked so hard for this and then to have it end the way that it is, is devastating,” said Oneida High School senior Elizabeth Cotton.

For Cotton, the new push to keep schools closed through the end of the school year hits hard.

“All of us are kind of in shock just because everything is getting canceled that we were supposed to do. Not knowing for certain if we’re going to get to walk across the stage with each other,” she said.

“It just made me happy because that’s how it needs to be with this going around so bad,” said Charlene Lipshin.

Lipshin is particularly invested because her Clinton Middle School student has a congenital heart defect, which she said makes him more susceptible to COVID-19. It even had her thinking of other options.

“Maybe homeschool him if they were to stay open,” Lipshin said.

Support also came from longtime educator and President of the Knox County Education Association, Tanya Coats. She said educators are still wishing for a way to get back in the classroom, but prioritizing health and safety.

“For educators it’s going to be a sad day, because we really miss our kids and we really miss teaching our kids and making sure they are prepared to be life-long learners. But we also know that this pandemic, in order to have as many kids as we’ve had for past years, that we’ve got to ensure their safety, and their safety is being safe at home and making sure that we’re not spreading this virus,” Coats said.

At his press conference, Gov. Bill Lee also said he will be working with the legislature when determining any adjustments to next school year’s calendar.

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