Breaking News
More () »

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

Gov. Lee: We need standardized testing to gauge virus impacts on learning; each district will make call on students wearing masks

Lee said he recognized some teachers, parents may be concerned about what could happen as public school systems begin to welcome pupils back.

Parents, children and teachers need to feel safe about going back to school this fall -- but there's no question schools must get back into session, Gov. Bill Lee said Thursday.

Lee said he recognized some teachers and parents may be concerned about what could happen as public school systems begin to welcome pupils back amid a rise on COVID-19 cases.

But school must resume, he said. Lee said he was confident school systems were taking steps to protect everyone going back to the classroom.

Lee also said he didn't see the need to impose state mandates on mask-wearing at schools.

RELATED: Getting you back to school: Your school district's plans for the fall

RELATED: Nearly 30% of Knox County students have enrolled in virtual learning so far

RELATED: Very few Americans back full school reopening, poll says

RELATED: "It's a very tight timeline" | Knox County Schools IT team fast-tracking Chromebook deployment

RELATED: TSSAA Board of Control passes new regulations, contingency plan for high school football, girls' soccer

RELATED: Board of Health: Social gatherings, people letting their guard down causing rise in Knox County

RELATED: "There will be risks" | Hamblen County pushes ahead with graduations, prom

RELATED: First-year UT students not required to live on-campus, and other changes due to COVID-19

RELATED: Getting you Back to School: Alcoa students start either staggered return to school or virtual classes

RELATED: Getting you Back to School: Deadline for Knox County Schools Virtual Learning

RELATED: Knox County Schools parents talk about signing up for virtual school, barriers and answers

RELATED: Hamblen Co. sees record new cases, nearly 1 in 5 tests are positive

RELATED: Learning pods, cohorts new option for virtual or homeschooled students

RELATED: Knox County Schools Chromebook insurance information released

"Individual districts will make those decisions," he said Thursday during his weekly media briefing.

Lee also affirmed his desire that TCAP assessments be conducted this coming school year. It's needed so teachers know how children are performing, and it's needed for parents, he said.

No one knows yet what impact suddenly switching to virtual classes this spring had on long-term learning, he said. Williamson County educators wanted a waiver on TCAP tests, a request Lee declined to support this week.

"The only way to know that impact is to make an assessment," Lee said.

Lee said his office would announce Tuesday the state's strategies for reopening of schools by local districts. He said his staff is communicating routinely with superintendents as they prepare to go back to school.

Alcoa Schools started back this week. Knox County goes back Aug. 17.

There are about 60,000 children in the Knox County system, and about 17,000 are opting for at-home, virtual learning this fall, according to figures released Thursday. They must stick with that decision this semester.

Lee also noted state Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn appeared Thursday before a House committee to talk about what Tennessee is doing to get ready.

The governor also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be releasing further guidance in the coming days about school re-openings. That will be shared across the state with educators and parents, he said.