TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Note: This article is updated regularly. Scroll down to see how these metrics affect framework plans for area schools.
All school districts have entered the “red” phase of reopening as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our region while school boards grapple with school plans and delay start dates.
All of the school systems in this list go by a framework that hinges on the spread of the virus. Each plan details three “zones” under which schools will operate this fall, and each zone is determined by the 14-day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.
Rate of community spread
The Tennessee Department of Health determines community spread within a community by calculating the average number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
According to the TDH website, the threshold signifying “substantial” community spread begins at an average of 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
Using that metric, here is an estimation of the counties in Northeast Tennesse in relation to the threshold:
- Carter County – 29.09 ABOVE
- Hawkins County – 32.58 ABOVE
- Greene County – 21.61 ABOVE
- Johnson County – 86.38 ABOVE
- Sullivan County – 19.80 ABOVE
- Unicoi County – 24.36 ABOVE
- Washington County – 29.10 ABOVE
Sullivan County, Bristol City and Kingsport City Schools use the same metric as the THD to determine thresholds for school plans.
The “red zone” triggers at a 14-day average of 11 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, and the “yellow” zone begins at an average of 6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
Bristol, Tennessee Schools – Red
Sullivan County Schools – Red
Kingsport City Schools – Red
Based on calculations by News Channel 11 staff, Sullivan County Schools, Kingsport City Schools and Bristol Tennessee Schools are currently in the “red” zone of school reopening, as case counts in Sullivan County continue to rise.
As of calculations on August 10, Sullivan County is reporting a 14-day average of 19.10 new cases per 100,000 residents, an increase from over the weekend and a metric that pushes up after a near-record of new cases reported on Monday.
The county reported its highest calculation on Monday, continuing a climb that has remained consistent since June.
Sullivan County is reporting the lowest average of new cases per 100,000 people as of Friday.
Last week, officials with Sullivan County Schools announced that the system would be opening its fall semester with remote instruction through August 14.
Kingsport’s Board of Education voted on Monday to begin the school year behind the screen.
Bristol Tennessee Schools are operating under remote instruction until August 14.
Johnson City Schools – Red
Washington County Schools – Red
In Washington County, there were about 29.10 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last two weeks as of August 10, which almost three times the threshold originally given for the “red zone”.
The metric has been decreasing from its highest point set at 34.40 on Friday. Monday marks the third consecutive day of decrease for Washington County.
That puts both Johnson City Schools and Washington County Schools in the “red” zone for reopening. According to Johnson City Schools’ website, this metric triggers consideration for school closure as school officials continue working with health officials and city leaders to make a decision.
Greeneville City Schools – Red
Greeneville City Schools are currently in the “red” zone for reopening.
In Greene County, there were 21.61 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to data on August 10, following a weekend of steady increase.
Monday marked Greene County’s highest average of new cases per 100,000 people.
According to Greeneville’s framework plan, the ‘red zone’ triggers at 11 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks for three consecutive days.
Note: Plans for Greene County, Carter County, Elizabethton, Johnson County and Unicoi County schools were either not readily available or did not include measurable thresholds for reopening schools. This article may be updated to include these districts in the future.