Gov. Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee

The Franklin County School System is agreeing with Gov. Bill Lee’s recommendation that school districts remain closed through April 24 as a precautionary measure stemming from the coronavirus threat.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean confirmed Wednesday that the initial closure through March 31 is being extended nearly an additional month. He added that at present, until further notice, students are scheduled to return on April 27.

Bean said that although the schedule is being greatly altered due to the coronavirus, steps to have a somewhat normal end to the school year are being planned.

“We’ll still have things for the seniors,” he said, adding that graduation is still planned to be held, and possibly some athletic matchups may take place after the school closure ends with action continuing into the early summer.

He said a meeting was held Tuesday with school system administrators to set criteria to have students complete course material online during the school closure.

He said that through the current school closure, free lunch and breakfast are being provided at all schools to anyone age 18 and younger.

The only schools not being used as pick-up locations for the food are North Middle School and South Middle School due to their current construction statuses.

The school system agreed to the move to be proactive in reducing the risk to spread the coronavirus.

Bean said the away-from-school course material will be available at the system’s individual schools on Monday from 10 a.m. to noon when take-out meals are being served.

Lee’s announcement was the latest in his effort to steer the state through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the governor has largely shied away from mandates, as other states have done, and instead urged people, businesses and other institutions to decide for themselves to stay home.

In addition to schools remaining closed until April 24, more than half of Tennessee’s 40,000 state employees have been instructed to continue working from home until then.

“We want our kids to continue to learn through the extension of this deadline,” which was originally March 31, Lee said during his daily briefing, held on Tuesday.

The governor also said he has activated the Tennessee National Guard, 250 volunteer members of which will be assisting at rural coronavirus testing sites around the state, where the total cases numbered at least 667 on Tuesday afternoon.