Stephens COVID update

Tullahoma City Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Stephens updated the community on a new option for school districts on remote learning through a video posted to the district’s website.

Tullahoma City Schools may have the option to move to remote/online learning, school officials announced recently.

In a video announcement posted by the school system, Director of Schools Dr. Catherine Stephens updated the community on a possibility for the system to move to remote learning should the spread of COVID-19 make in-person education impossible. In the video, she stated all superintendents across Tennessee received a letter from Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn that outlined a new process available to them.

According to Stephens, Schwinn said school districts may apply for a waiver from the state that would allow them to move from in-person learning to remote learning. Stephens called it “a new item that we can add to our toolbox” in the fight against COVID-19.

“Superintendents will complete the waiver application to move a school to remote learning when it becomes impossible for the school to continue,” she said. “What that means is there isn’t enough staff to maintain safety and to properly educate our students in the school setting. If and when it comes to pass, I will complete the application.

“Included in the application, I must relay the number and percentage of students and staff who are either in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19. I must also articulate the justification as to why the school needs to be place on remote learning.”

Stephens pointed out that if a school is to be placed on remote learning, no extra-curricular activities for that school may take place throughout the entire duration of the remote learning period.

The application would be sent directly to the commissioner, Stephens said, which will be evaluated by the commissioner and her team. The district would then be notified as to whether or not the application is approved.

Should the waiver be approved, Stephens said she would communicate that to all interested parties, including for how long the remote learning period will last. She added that meals would still be provided to students during the remote learning period. That information, she said, would be provided to families if and when the time comes.

As she stated in the first video announcement earlier in August, Stephens reiterated that students, staff members, parents and community members can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses by staying home when sick, washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizer when handwashing is not feasible and recommending mask usages for all people inside Tullahoma City Schools facilities.

She also reiterated that parents, faculty, staff and community members can find the district’s COVID-19 dashboard online at

As of Friday, Sept. 3, there were 18 positive cases of COVID-19 among students at Tullahoma High School, 11 student cases at East Lincoln Elementary School, five cases each at Bel-Aire Elementary School, Jack T. Farrar Elementary School and West Middle School and fewer than five cases at Robert E. Lee Elementary School and East Middle School. There were no staff cases reported at Bel-Aire, East Lincoln or Farrar and fewer than five staff cases at Lee, East Middle School, West and THS.

Quarantine numbers as of Sept. 3 were 39 students at THS, 21 at East, 17 at West, 16 at Bel-Aire, 41 at East Lincoln, 20 at Farrar and 18 at Robert E. Lee. Staff quarantine numbers were fewer than five at East Lincoln, Lee, East and THS and none at Bel-Aire, Farrar and West.

The Tullahoma Virtual Academy remained COVID-free for both students and staff members.

Managing Editor

Erin McCullough has won awards for her news reporting, community lifestyles and education reporting in the three years she's been a journalist. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and currently lives in Tullahoma with her cat, Luna.

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