Parents ask Monroe County Schools to reconsider cancelling school activities

TELLICO PLAINS (WATE) – A sharp rise in illnesses and flu cases forced the closure of Monroe County Schools for several days. Many parents said it was the right call.

“I hate for him to miss school but I’d rather have him be at home then be exposed to being sick,” Melissa Roberts said.

But for others, having their kids out of school has put them in a bind.

“My job has been very lenient but for other parents, they’ve expressed it’s been very hard on them,” Sabrina English said.

With hundreds of students out of school, many parents had to take off work and rearrange their schedules.

“It’s very hard on us parents,” James Wagner said. “We’ve been having to miss work and find ways for our kids to stay at home.”

Not only has it been inconvenient for parents, but the closures have also disrupted class-related activities. A number of parents expressed disappointment on social media about children not being able to participate in the TNT basketball tournament later on this week.

“These teams have worked so hard,” said Jent Hunt in a letter to Monroe County Superintendent Tim Blankenship. “The parents are transporting all children and the funds for this were raised in fundraisers. Please give these kids the chance to play it out on the court.”

WATE 6 On Your Side reached out Blankenship. Here is his response:

Due to an extreme rise in illnesses and flu cases, both those diagnosed and those exposed only to be diagnosed later, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel all school and school-related events in county and outside of the county.  After a two-day closure as a result of a high percentage of absentee rates for both students and staff members, in which schools were still allowed to host extracurricular events and ballgames, we have continued to see an even further increase in the numbers of absences and diagnosed illnesses among our school system.

Anytime a decision like this is made, prior plans and commitments are affected, and students, teachers, and families are disappointed.  We issued an official letter  to the school administration involved with this tournament, asking that any arrangements that can be made to reschedule teams or refund entry fees would be greatly appreciated. 

Our school personnel work very hard to plan and promote opportunities for our students, and it is our hope that a decision like this, made through no choice of their own, will be considered as a rare case in which some sort of consolation will be considered.

Roberts said her son was sad the annual Valentine’s Day Dance got postponed.

“They were supposed to have the dance on Friday but they rescheduled it for next week,” Roberts said.

Still in the face of illness, many parents said it’s better to be safe than sorry, and they are hopeful the situation improves by next week.

“I’m glad school’s out,” English said. “That way they’re going to get the germs cleaned up and maybe when they go back to school everything will be good.”


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