Many Tennessee schools announce plans to reopen at highest peak of pandemic

Posted at 10:22 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 11:53:37-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Many Tennessee school districts have announced plans to resume classes for the upcoming school year, and some are choosing in-person options at the highest peak of the pandemic. So, what should parents know?

Chief investigative reporter Phil Williams (@NC5PhilWilliams) has compiled a Twitter thread of data that highlights what health officials are saying about schools reopening.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the safest option is for “students and teachers [to] engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events,” while the highest risk would include “full sized, in-person classes.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics initially stated that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

The AAP guidance was based on the experience that children don’t get as sick as adults when exposed to the virus. Children make up 15% of all known cases in Tennessee, even though we are not routinely testing.

So far, there have been three deaths.

Since then, the AAP, joining with teachers unions, backed off that original statement, now saying that “we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff. "

"We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it," the joint statement added.

For schools that opt for in-person classes, the CDC recommends wearing masks, saying “teach and reinforce [the] use of cloth face coverings,” even though they may be “challenging for students to wear in all-day settings such as school.” The AAP has similar advice for elementary schools.

However, Rutherford County will not require face masks in schools – at this time. Rutherford County is also experiencing what the state considers to be “unacceptable rates of transmission.”

Davidson County was also included on that list of unacceptable transmission rates. Last week, Metro Schools announced the district would start remotely until at least Labor Day.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Nashville is prepared to open all 19 of its Middle Tennessee schools at the beginning of August.

Read Phil Williams’ thread in its entirety below:


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.