Hamilton County suspends school commencing Monday, Mar. 15th

Hamilton county schools are shutting down March 15th. Message from the county is attached below. While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hamilton county, testing for the virus has only reached a confirmed 88 people in the state (18 of which have the virus).

Over the last 24 hours, there has been a change in tone around the coronavirus, as the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic; at the federal level, President Trump restricted travel; and Governor Lee this morning declared a State of Emergency in Tennessee to combat the spread of the virus.   While at this time there are no known confirmed cases of coronavirus in the community, Hamilton County Schools will close for the next two weeks to provide a two-week window for children to be out of school to reduce the opportunity for the virus to spread. We make this decision with the safety of our children and the community in mind.
Tomorrow, March 13, will be a regular school day. We will use this as an opportunity to provide students with learning materials and review with them the process of how we will continue learning while students are out of school.
The district will recommend to the Hamilton County Board of Education that Spring Break be moved up two weeks to March 23-27 to reduce the loss of instruction time. The board will meet on Monday, March 16, to consider the change of the school calendar. 

The district knows moving Spring Break will disrupt family plans, and we will work with parents and students in this situation.  If the board approves the change, planned trips for the original period for Spring Break, April 3 through April 10, will be excused absences for those students.  The district has not changed plans for schools to be out on April 10 for Good Friday. With the already planned student holiday on Monday, March 16, students will miss an additional four days of school in this plan versus the original school calendar.

It is our goal for student learning to continue while we are closed. Through the district’s HCS Continued Learning Plan, the district will provide learning opportunities for children to complete while we are out of school. These assignments will be posted on the www.hcde.org website, and the learning packets will also be available for pick up at schools (if parents are unable to access them on the website). Plans are in place for working through the issue of students and families without internet access so that all students will have access to learning opportunities.
We will coordinate with staff and work with them to set schedules as we move through this process to continue learning opportunities while doing so in an appropriate environment for our teachers and staff.  
Hamilton County Schools has been in consultation with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department as we developed these plans.  As you see in the graphic, Flattening the curve, from the CDC, delaying action is a problem, so the district is seeking to flatten the curve in our community to lessen the impact of the coronavirus on the Greater Chattanooga area.  Thank you for your support of our children and our school district as we work through this global issue together.

Field trips, all school activities and athletic events and practices are canceled through March 30. School-aged Child Care will be closed from March 16-March 27 as well.
We know that access to food can be an issue for some children when school is out.  The district is working with community groups and our School Nutrition Department to determine options to address this concern.   
We are in an extraordinary situation at this time, and out of an abundance of caution, the school district is looking to do its part to help address the problem.  We are planning for students to return to school on Monday, March 30.  This district will continue to monitor the situation over the next two weeks.

Tim Hensley
APR Communications Officer
3074 Hickory Valley Road
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421-1265
423-498-7043 Ext. 20028

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