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Entire seventh grade at West View Middle School moves online due to COVID-19 cases, quarantined students

Students who do not test positive and are not asked to quarantine can still show up for class, but they are being encouraged to stay home.

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. — The seventh grade at West View Middle School in Hamblen County will learn virtually beginning Friday, Aug. 20 after half of the class went into quarantine from COVID-19 exposure, according to Dr. Jeff Perry, Hamblen County Superintendent.

Perry said it stemmed from a handful of COVID-19 cases and how many interactions they had within the class. 

Spanish Version: Todo el séptimo grado de West View Middle School se traslada a modo virtual debido a casos de COVID-19 y estudiantes en cuarentena

Students who do not test positive and are not asked to quarantine can still show up for class and learning virtually from the school building, according to officials. They are being encouraged to stay home.

"We would strongly recommend that students do participate virtually in this situation, just simply give us a couple of days to determine which students may actually have been infected, and it becomes symptomatic," Perry said.

Perry said the seventh graders will return to in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 30.

He said a virtual option is only available on a case-by-case basis. 

When a principal decides it is no longer feasible and/or safe to hold in-person instruction, they can ask Perry to go virtual, but it is temporary and optional.

"The state took away the option of having virtual education, and they made it very impractical for us today," Perry said. "We're still an option, but really, truly the way they set it up, it was financially unmanageable, and then actually staffing wise we could not have staffed it. So basically they made it impossible for us to do."

Perry said Governor Bill Lee's recent order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates is also presenting challenges in the classroom.

RELATED: Gov. Lee issues executive order allowing parents to opt kids out of school mask mandates

"Right now, what we're doing is we're sitting in very crowded classrooms and it's very difficult to sometimes socially distance in those classrooms," Perry said. "We don't have a mask mandate to help us limit some of that, and so it just ends up creating a situation where we will have a greater number of infections this year than we did last year."