Local schools to remain closed

Newport City Director of Schools Sandy Burchette, left, and Cocke County Director of Schools Manney Moore prepare to give statements regarding the extended closure of local schools during a press conference Friday.

NEWPORT—Schools in the Cocke County and Newport City School systems will remain closed through April 13, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sandy Burchette, Newport City Schools Director, made the announcement Friday during a news conference at the Cocke County Schools Central Office.

Burchette said the joint decision to extend the school closures came after a week of frantic activity on the parts of both systems in preparing study packets for over 5,000 students, plus distribution plans for school meals.

Local schools have been closed since Monday, March 16.

Burchette, along with Cocke County Director of Schools Manney Moore, said she was “very pleased with the faculties of all schools and the community. At Newport Grammar, 100 percent of the study packets were either picked up by the parents or were hand delivered by SRO Justin Vinson and NGS Assistant Principal Dustin Morrow. We have almost 700 students. This week we distributed 957 breakfasts and 977 lunches.

“I want to emphasize that in the coming days any student, ages 2 through 18, may pick up these meals between 7:00 a.m. and noon. They do NOT have to be a student at Newport Grammar.”

She also said that students who receive Second Harvest backpacks had received theirs for the weekend.

At the end of the extended closure, Burchette and Moore said that it will be “time to reassess the situation.”

The extended closure will take both systems through their planned Spring Breaks.

Moore added his praise for the county school system’s personnel. “They achieved an almost impossible task,” he said. “Schools are more than test scores, and last week we saw that. Thanks to the parents for their cooperation. I have been blown away by how our school communities have come together.

“We have 4,498 students in our county schools and over 99 percent of them have been provided with some form of instructional material. I praise Rebekah Fisher and her cafeteria staffs for their work. Last week a total of 14,321 meals were served. Next week, meals will be distributed on Monday and Wednesday between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Meals may be picked up at any school in the county.

“Please continue to follow our communications. We are still in a fluid situation.”

When asked about graduation plans, Moore said, “No decision has been made on that.”

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