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Schools don't raise COVID cases, governor says
Bill Lee
Governor Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee has issued Executive Order No. 70, which bans indoor public gatherings of more than 10 people until Jan. 19.

But that order won’t impact reopening schools in January, the governor stressed during a conference call to reporters.

When asked by the Southern Standard about hundreds of students and dozens of teachers meeting indoors for classes, Gov. Lee said, “School is not a public gathering. The order does not apply to schools.”

Lee issued the executive order in hopes of tamping down Tennessee’s worst-in-the-nation spread of COVID-19. Tennessee is now ranked the No. 1 coronavirus hotstop by the Centers for Disease Control, ahead of No. 2 California.

Lee said he doesn’t believe COVID is being spread in schools.

“In-person learning doesn’t raise the number of cases,” said Lee. “I strongly believe schools should be open and I hope schools do reopen in January.”

When asked if he has any thoughts of delaying the start of school to help ease the spread of COVID, Gov. Lee said, “Absolutely not. We’ve worked really hard to create an in-person learning environment that’s safe and we need kids to be in school.”

When asked about the health of teachers, Gov. Lee said teachers are being classified as “infrastructure workers” and that should place them near the top of the list behind healthcare workers and first-responders when it comes to getting the vaccine when supplies are available.

Warren County Schools began the school year in August with a hybrid learning model where only half the students were in class at one time. After the first nine weeks, all students returned to class Monday thru Thursday until two schools, WCHS and WCMS, were forced to go to all-virtual learning due to soaring coronavirus cases.

All students are scheduled to return to class in Warren County on Jan. 5.