Knox County educator shares reaction to Gov. Lee’s recommendations for reopening schools

Education

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced on Tuesday the state’s recommendations about how to return to class in the fall.

The governor unveiled a Safe Reopening Plan for schools across the state.

It includes a “10-Day Sick Window,” described as a period when students and staff must stay isolated at home for 10 days after symptoms, or from the date their test was done if they never developed symptoms.

There is also a “14-Day Quarantine” for someone who has had close contact with a COVID-19 patient.

“We are grateful that the governor has decided to speak up about what is some of his criteria of opening schools, but he has missed some very important criteria that teachers are still worried about,” Tanya Coats, president of the Knox County Education Association, said.

Coats says the new plan has both flaws and positives.

“The positive is he is going to provide this personal protective gear for educators across the state. Not only just masks, but he’s going to provide the hand saniziters, he said he’s going to provide gloves,” she said.

The state says every classroom teacher will have a full-year classroom disinfecting kit to use, so no teacher pays for the materials out of their own pockets.

But there are also parts of the recommendation standing out to Coats as missing the mark.

“We are hoping that the governor would have at least put some mandates into place, of making sure that everyone must wear a mask,” she said. “I know local leaders and local superintendents, they are just as scared as the teachers in which they employ. So they just need some guidence, and again, that’s one criteria that he just missed of saying these are the mandates that we are going to require for the state of Tennessee.”

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas sent us a statement following Lee’s announcement, reading in part, “I appreciate the Governor’s additional guidance on reopening and the resources that will be provided to support our students, staff and schools.”

An Anderson County Schools spokesperson also told us their district is very grateful for the additional resources from the state.

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