Governor Lee: Parents should have option of sending children to in-person school

Local Coronavirus Coverage

ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL)- Governor Bill Lee made multiple stops in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday related to economic development. Between stops, he took a few questions from reporters.

News Channel 11 asked the governor if the state would provide more specific COVID-19 metrics to school districts to help determine when to let students back in classrooms.

Governor Lee said he believes parents should have the option of sending their kids to school in-person.

“There’s a number of reasons why kids do better in school, which is why, as a state, we have worked really hard with district superintendents to provide that choice for parents,” he said.

Some Northeast Tennessee school superintendents have called for clearer thresholds on what case levels are acceptable to have kids back in classrooms. Governor Lee believes the guidance is clear.

“We have some very clear metrics regarding case counts in schools, what to do when there is a case in a school or a number of cases in the school,” he said. “We work with our superintendents, they’ve been great partners, they’ve had a really hard job. Teachers have had an incredibly difficult job to get back into the classroom.”

The governor also addressed the state’s pandemic response.

“I’ve been really encouraged with a few things. We’ve been one of the best-tested states in the country, which we believe led to some of the best outcomes,” he said.

Lee said the state’s death rate per capita has stayed low compared to similarly-sized states.

“Any death is tragic. There’s no such thing as a good death rate. But when compared with per capita, our death rate is substantively better than other states of our size,” said Lee.

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