In response to widespread school closures as a result of rising coronavirus cases in the region, Tennessee lawmakers have passed legislation calling to cancel state assessments and accountability requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

If passed, House Bill 2818, signed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, March 20, would cancel TN Ready testing, which was scheduled to occur this spring, as well as other state assessments. Scores would not be counted for this school year, according to the bill.

Many schools have been closed for at least the past week and are expected to stay closed through at least the end of the month after Gov. Bill Lee urged districts to keep students out of schools to reduce chances of spreading the virus more.

While the bill, as well as a version in the senate—Senate Bill 2672—has been approved in the Legislature, it will still need to be signed by Lee, and the state will also need to seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. In a March 20 release, officials with the U.S. Department of Education announced it will grant waivers for state testing upon proper request. A waiver request was submitted by the Tennessee Department of Education March 16.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn supported the move to cancel testing and thanked lawmakers for passing the bills quickly.

“These are challenging times for all of us," Schwinn said in a statement. "I appreciate the opportunity to work with the governor’s office and legislative leaders to craft this amendment so that no student, educator, or school will be adversely affected due to the loss of instructional time caused by tornadoes and the coronavirus pandemic."