SURGOINSVILLE — Three Hawkins County schools shut down this week due to increased COVID-19 cases and quarantines, including Surgoinsville Elementary, Surgoinsville Middle and Volunteer High School.
Classes at those schools will be 100% virtual until Nov. 30.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, on Monday Hawkins County had its highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day since the pandemic began with 51. That tops the previous records of 42 on Nov. 9, and 38 on Aug. 3.
As of Tuesday, Hawkins County had 195 new cases reported over the past seven days.
Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson said he is addressing COVID outbreaks on a school-by-school basis.
Last month, Cherokee High School was closed the week before fall break, giving the campus two weeks off to “reset” after COVID-19 numbers began to spike there.
Surgoinsville Elementary went entirely virtual on Tuesday and is being joined by Surgoinsville Middle and Volunteer High School on Wednesday.
“Surgoinsville Elementary had over half its staff out,” Hixson told the Times News on Tuesday. “VHS has been hit hard with staff and student quarantines. We are now counting up to 200 students out due to quarantine or non COVID illness. All students and staff will be moved to virtual instruction, ensuring the continuation of instruction.”
Since August, 37 Hawkins County teachers across the system have tested positive, as well as 54 students.
Also since August, another 128 faculty and staff were identified as close contacts and quarantined, as well as 619 students.
Hixson attributed the three new school shutdowns to staff shortages and a desire to slow the spread of the virus at the sites.
“If after we quarantine, cases continue to grow, we will shut the sites down, allowing for distancing and cleaning protocols,” he added.
The independent K-8 Rogersville City School had been 100% virtual for the past two weeks due to a spike in COVID cases before returning to its “mostly virtual” schedule on Monday.
That schedule entails students in grades K-2 being placed on an alternating schedule with half of the students in the classroom two days per week and the other half in the classroom the other two days per week.
Students in grades 3-8 stayed home and received their lessons via virtual classrooms, although teachers have the freedom to bring in students who need extra help.
All RCS students are in virtual classrooms on Fridays.