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Grainger Co. students will move to virtual classes starting Friday due to bus driver shortage

All Grainger County students will attend class virtually from Friday, November 20 through Tuesday, November 24.

GRAINGER COUNTY, Tenn. — Grainger County Schools announced Tuesday it will be moving all students to virtual classes starting this Friday.

According to the school system, all Grainger County students will attend class virtually from Friday, November 20 to Tuesday, November 24. 

Rutledge Middle School students, who are already on virtual classes, will continue to do so through Tuesday, November 24.

GCS said staff and faculty will report to their school as normal.

The school system confirmed it had seen 53 total cases of COVID-19 so far, saying it will be short five bus drivers starting Friday. All but three of its maintenance workers trained to be back-up drivers are in quarantine.

The county runs 64 buses. 

Dr. James Atkins, Director of Schools, said they considered going virtual next week anyway due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the number of students in quarantine. He said he will make a decision on whether all-virtual learning will continue after Thanksgiving, but is not sure how long it would last yet.  

Across East Tennessee, at least four other districts (Blount, Claiborne, Jefferson and Scott) have taken similar measures amid staff shortages as COVID-19 numbers began to drastically rise ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Tennessee Education Association is calling on Gov. Bill Lee to take stricter safety measures.

Credit: WBIR