Gov. Lee calls for schools to be closed until April 24

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In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Bill Lee recommended public schools across the state of Tennessee remain closed until April 24.

Previously, Tipton County Schools Director Dr. John Combs had closed schools until April 1, in accordance with a previous call to have schools through the end of March.

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Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state understands school closures are a “significant disruption” for families and students.

“The recommendation to extend them has not been considered lightly,” she said. “The Department of Education team will continue to work closely with our districts as they serve students and families during this time. We are committed to doing whatever we can to support our district leaders as they make the necessary decisions to ensure students can continue to access critical meal and other services, as well as receive high-quality academic instruction while they are out of school.” 

Combs said more information about instruction, and the feeding program, would be sent out early next week.

The school system has been working to provide free lunches for children under 18 – whether they are students or not – during the extended closure.

Because they miss their students, teachers from Munford Elementary held a parade of sorts Monday afternoon. Austin Peay is set to hold theirs Wednesday, Drummonds at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Crestview beginning at 1:30 Thursday and Atoka Elementary is making plans for a parade on Friday.

“We just wanted to remind our kids we haven’t gone anywhere,” said kindergarten teacher Tracy Wallace. “We’re still here.”

“Even in the midst of these challenges, we have seen an incredible outpouring from districts, schools and teachers going above and beyond to ensure students continue to have access to food and have the supports they need to continue learning,” said Schwinn. “This is a huge testament to our resilience as a state and the dedication of our educators and leaders.”