Gov. Lee says Tennessee TCAP results show academic decline as a result of pandemic

Governor Bill Lee stated that he would be listening to parents over the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding children’s health advice.
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Governor Bill Lee shared statements on COVID-19 and schools during a press conference Monday afternoon.

Lee said the state was watching data and tracking the impact the Delta variant has on children.

”We watch data every day and I am in contact with the department of health every day to talk with them about the challenges of COVID-19 and the pandemic. We certainly are tracking the impact it has on children. We have a solution for COVID-19, and it is a vaccine, and we believe that we should make it widely available to every Tennessean,” Lee said. “We encourage Tennesseans to talk to their doctors about taking that vaccine.”

The department was very encouraged that the state had a 22 percent increase in the number of individuals who were vaccinated over last week, Lee stated.

“Something really different between right now and February is that we have a widely available vaccine solution to any who qualifies for it, for months now,” Lee said. “The difference between when we were in crisis and when we are in a manage situation is that we have a solution to COVID-19.”

Lee stated the vaccine is the number one tool that Tennesseans have to battle the virus and that is the reason he will continue to encourage Tennesseans to be vaccinated.

Gov. Lee said personal choice and personal decision-making are very important but the decision is best when made with personal doctors. The department of health is emphasizing that conversation in the next month with new initiatives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended universal masking in schools for everyone older than 2 on July 19.

Lee stated he would be listening to parents instead of the American Academy of Pediatrics to make the best medical decisions for their children regarding COVID-19. He also said parents have to make decisions about the risks of their own children, whether the child goes to school or wears a mask, etc.

“I am listening to parents because parents have the best decision-making process for their children out of anyone. The parents should consult with their medical professional to make those decisions,” Lee said. “I, wholeheartedly, believe that the person who has the best interest in the child in mind is that child’s parent and that is where we should focus our attention.”

Lee said the state has seen closing schools had resulted in learning loss and the best opportunity for children regarding learning is in-person in schools and that is what he would be advocating for.

Gov. Lee highlighted results from the 2021 Spring Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program Monday afternoon. According to the results, 95 percent of Tennessee students participated in TCAP testing.

All subjects and grades saw academic declines as a result of the pandemic, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said.

The data showed a decrease in students scoring mastered and on track and an increase in students scoring below. The data also showed the most negative impacts for economically disadvantaged students, urban/suburban students, English learners, and students of color.

“Since last school year, districts, schools, and educators have worked tirelessly to adapt to this new reality, met and exceeded ambitious goals to ensure our students tested, and are ready to start the new school year strong. Now is the time for our state to come together to support our students. We must operate with urgency and conviction that, together, we will do what is necessary to provide all students with an excellent education,” said Schwinn.

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