Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee on Monday morning called on all school districts across the state to shut down until the end of March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Williamson County Schools are currently closed until March 23.

Lee says schools are encouraged to close as soon as possible but have until Friday to comply with his request. 

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The Tennessee Education Association and Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn both support the move, which came the day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance against large gatherings of 50 people or more for the rest of the month. 

The announcement comes three days after the state told schools to remain operational if the district does not have a lab-confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, despite the CDC advising schools to close for at least eight weeks. 

Dozens of other states have shut down their school systems since CDC released the guidance, including Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas, according to Education Week. As of Sunday night, more than 64,000 U.S. schools were closed, affecting at least 32.5 million students.

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