Tennessee Senate Approves Bill to Allow School Districts, Governor to Reopen Classes

By Jason M. Reynolds  | Tennessee Star

The Tennessee Legislature is looking into giving local education districts more leeway to open or shut schools during public emergencies — or the governor the power to send students back to campus.

On Monday, Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) presented Senate Bill 103 to the full Senate. The bill passed the Senate as amended, 27-5.

The legislation aims to give school boards more independence when deciding to open or close schools during a public emergency, unless the governor has issued a statewide order, Kelsey said in a statement. School boards can delegate the authority to the director of schools under an amendment added to the legislation.

The bill also would give the governor authority to open schools, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement.

The companion legislation is House Bill 225, carried by State Representative Kevin Vaughn (R-Collierville). That version was filed in the House on Feb. 8. In January, Vaughn said, “This bill seeks to clarify that duly elected local school boards are the ultimate decision makers when it comes to the operation of their schools.”

Kelsey tweeted, “This is a victory for students and parents as every Tennessee family deserves the choice of in-person learning. Allowing students to return to the classroom is long overdue.”

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