Gov. Bill Lee calls for schools to close until Apr. 24

Published 8:11 am Thursday, March 26, 2020

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is recommending all public schools remain closed until April 24 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lee made the recommendation during his daily update on Tuesday. He originally asked that schools remain closed through March 31. All Tennessee public schools were closed by March 20.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said the state is working with PBS to produce educational content for students as they remain out of the classroom. The content will begin to roll out on April 6. The governor said the Department of Education has secured a partnership with PBS to offer instructional content on television while students are at home.
Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn said, “This is an unprecedented time for our country and state and we thank Governor Lee for his leadership in protecting the health and well-being of Tennessee’s students and teachers. We know school closures represent a significant disruption for families and students and the recommendation to extend them has not been considered lightly.
“The Department of Education team will continue to work closely with our districts as they serve students and families during this time. We are committed to doing whatever we can to support our district leaders as they make the necessary decisions to ensure students can continue to access critical meal and other services, as well as receive high-quality academic instruction while they are out of school.”
The governor also said state workers are to remain working from home until April 24.
Real IDs are being put on hold. Lee said the IDs will not be issued again until May 18. The deadline for the ID change was originally set for October 1, 2020, but President Donald Trump said Monday the deadline will be pushed back indefinitely. The change would require Americans flying domestically to have a Real-ID compliant form of identification.
State emissions tests fees will be waived until May 18.
Lee said that he directed the Department of Revenue to delay the filing deadline for franchise and excise taxes until July 15, to help mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus.
He also announced that officials were working with public utilities to ensure services would not be discontinued if customers missed payments on their bills.
Tennessee confirmed 667 cases of COVID-19. That’s up from 615 on Monday.
Health officials said that they expect that number to rise as more testing resources are made available and more people are tested for the virus.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey urged residents to continue social distancing during this time. Piercey said as demand for testing grows, the turnaround time grows, leaving the false impression that the curve is flattening in the state. Officials with the state health department urged people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old to take the coronavirus seriously.

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