Update, March 16, 3:55 p.m.:
Officials with Metro Nashville Public Schools have announced campuses throughout the district will close through April 3.
“Ensuring the well-being of our students and staff is our top priority in how our district responds to the COVID-19 state of emergency,” Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said in a news release. “We appreciate Governor Lee taking the first step of flexibility for districts by urging for all schools to remain closed throughout the month of March, and we’ll be closely monitoring the situation to determine when it will be safe to reopen our schools.”
MNPS closed on March 12-13 ahead of spring break due to concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus. In addition to school closures, school board chair Anna Shepherd has cancelled the board meeting on March 24.
As of March 16, the Tennessee Department of Health has reported 52 cases of coronavirus throughout Tennessee, including 25 in Davidson County.
Original post, March 16, 11 a.m.: Gov. Lee urges statewide school closures through end of March
Gov. Bill Lee is urging all school districts in Tennessee to close "as soon as practically possible" to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, according to a statement released March 16. Lee said all schools should be closed by March 20 and remain closed through March 31.
“As the response to COVID-19 evolves, I urge every school district in Tennessee to close as soon as practically possible, with all schools expected to close by Friday, March 20, 2020 at the latest,” Lee said in a statement. “Schools should remain closed through March 31, 2020 to further mitigate the spread of this infectious disease and we will issue further guidance prior to March 31.”
Superintendents and local leadership will have the administration's support to determine dates for closure this week, according to Lee. Ahead of school closures, the Tennessee Department of Education set up a hotline for district leaders open on weekdays from 6:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 629-888-5898.
“We thank Governor Lee for encouraging school districts to close through the end of the month in order to protect the health and well-being of Tennessee’s students, teachers, and entire communities across the state,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. "The Department of Education team has been working overtime to communicate with districts and issue guidance to help them make plans and decisions to ensure a continuation of academic instruction as well as critical meals and other services for students during times of school closure.”
State officials will issue additional guidance regarding future closures prior to March 31, according to Lee.
“We understand the tremendous burden school closure places on families and we will continue to work with both the federal government and school districts to ensure we continue essential supports like meals for students in need," Lee said. "Every Tennessean has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and I urge Tennesseans to be quick to help neighbors as new needs surface with the closure of schools.”
As of March 16, the Tennessee Department of Health has reported 39 cases of coronavirus in Tennessee, including 17 cases in Davidson County and 14 cases in Williamson County.
Metro Nashville Public Schools, Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District are closed through March 20 for spring break.
For updated information on the virus, visit https://tn.gov/health.
This story is still developing. Check back for updates.
Gov. Lee urges statewide school closures through end of March, Metro Nashville Public Schools to close through at least April 3
Metro Nashville Public Schools will be closed through April 3. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)