Lee's decision to keep schools closed comes two days after he extended the state's stay-at-home order through April 30. Schools were previously set to be closed through at least April 24.
"This pandemic has created many challenges for families and teachers and students," Lee said in a press briefing on April 15. "Students have lost a significant amount of learning time and we are committed to continuing to provide resources that will keep our students engaged over these next several weeks."
Following Lee's announcement regarding school closures, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced that she will lead the state's new COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force, which was formed to support local school districts during the extended closures. More details about the task force will be announced in the coming weeks.
“I appreciate the governor’s recommendation schools remain closed through the end of the school year to protect the health and safety of all Tennesseans," Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement. "The coronavirus pandemic is constantly evolving, and we are only starting to see how this pandemic is affecting our children."
In a conference call meeting April 9, the Tennessee State Board of Education unanimously approved emergency rules relating to issues caused by the closure of schools statewide due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region. The new rules require high school grades for the spring semester be no lower than the grade the student had on March 20.
Additionally, students enrolled in a Tennessee public schools who did not take the SAT or ACT will not be required to do so for graduation purposes.
As of April 15, there are now 6,079 cases of coronavirus across the state, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. This includes 135 deaths, 663 cumulative hospitalizations and 2,196 recovered patients.
This story is developing, check back for updates.