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Gov. Bill Lee visits first classrooms since pandemic school year began

Governor Bill Lee toured Sterchi Elementary School in Knoxville and Anderson County High School in Clinton Monday.

Governor Bill Lee toured two East Tennessee schools Monday to see how classes are going during the pandemic.

He stressed the importance of getting kids back in school.

This was the first time he stepped foot into a classroom this school year.

"We wanted to let schools operate for three or four weeks and then start going to them and see just how it's working and if it's working," said Lee.

Sterchi Elementary School in Knoxville was the first stop for Lee, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, and State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Lee thanked younger students for wearing their masks in class and encouraged them to keep working hard.

He also toured Anderson County High School and answered questions from high schoolers about his time as governor.

Lee said he was impressed during both school visits at the teachers' adaptability when it came to teaching virtually, as well as how they're handling social distancing in schools.

"This is a perfect example and I'm very inspired I'm very encouraged, very grateful," he said to the staff at Sterchi.

The governor advocated for COVID-19 testing.

He also responded to the state's use of old data to show a sharp drop in student proficiencies in math and reading tied to the pandemic.

"We're looking for as much information as possible as early as possible to begin to understand what learning loss looks like so we can make adjustments," said Lee.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas told Lee that KCS parents will be making the decision in a few weeks between virtual and in-person learning for the spring semester.

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