The Tennessee Education Association is calling for a mask mandate in schools, emergency state school funding for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), firm guidance for school closures, and other measures that will help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in schools.
Active cases of COVID-19 are consistently higher among school staff than the general population, according to TEA President Beth Brown.
“The importance of in-person instruction to the academic and emotional wellbeing of students is undisputed; however, the demonstrably higher infection rate of Tennessee school staff cannot be ignored,” Brown said in a letter to Gov. Bill Lee Tuesday.
“There are actions your administration can and must take to reduce infections until a vaccine can be widely distributed.”
Brown also said the government needs to fix the “significant errors” in the Department of Education statewide COVID dashboard or just take down the website. She said that the state is grossly underreporting the number of infections in schools.
320,729 people in Tennessee have tested positive for coronavirus, and 3,995 people have died from the disease.
Cases among school-aged children have been rising for weeks. There are currently more than 2,500 active cases among Tennessee kids aged between 5 and 18, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
More than half of those cases are among high school kids aged 14-18.
Nationwide, 1,039,464 children have tested positive for coronavirus, which represents about 11.5% of total cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Staff members have also been hit hard by the pandemic. Some schools in middle Tennessee had to temporarily close last month because they didn’t have enough substitute teachers to cover quarantined teachers, WZTV reported.