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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Principal Tiffany Earvin, left, greets students, arriving by bus, at Orchard Knob Middle School. Orchard Knob Middle School started the 2021-2022 school year under a Hamilton County Schools system wide mask mandate on August 9, 2021, because of the surge in the Delta variant of the Coronavirus.

Three school districts in Southeast Tennessee will close for part or all of next week because of current or anticipated COVID-19 cases.

Grundy County Schools and Marion County Schools will close all schools the entirety of next week and will both use "stockpile days" — set aside for inclement weather — for the closures.

There will be no instruction, as Gov. Bill Lee has banned districtwide virtual learning as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The closure for Grundy County Schools will start next week and includes canceling extracurricular activities.

Marion County Schools closed Thursday and will remain closed through next week to deep clean facilities, suspending extracurricular activities and rescheduling football games.

Hamilton County Schools, the largest school district in the region, will close Tuesday and Wednesday next week to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools. As of Friday morning, the district reported 737 active cases among its 44,000 students.

As of Friday afternoon, several districts will be open for regular operations next week, with most having closed earlier this semester as a result of COVID-19 spread:

— Bledsoe County Schools

— Bradley County Schools

— Cleveland City Schools

— McMinn County Schools

— Meigs County Schools

— Polk County Schools

— Rhea County Schools

— Sequatchie County Schools

Cleveland City Schools closed Aug. 26 and 27 because of staffing shortages and encouraged students and staff to wear masks upon return this past Monday.

On Thursday, the district's board of education approved a mask requirement for students and staff inside buildings, with a form available for families to opt out on behalf of students. The state has overridden local school districts, saying no mask requirement can be imposed without the parent opt-out option.

Meigs County Schools dismissed early on Aug. 25 and closed the rest of that week because of staff and student illness.

Polk County Schools closed all of this week amid staff shortages and increased student absences resulting from COVID-19, as did Sequatchie County Schools, which sent a letter to families Aug. 27 announcing the closures and the plan to return to schools the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Bledsoe County Schools closed two schools on Aug. 30 and closed all district schools Aug. 31, according to Facebook posts from the district.

Bradley County Schools dismissed early Tuesday due to inclement weather, according to a post on the district's Facebook page, but has not closed due to COVID-19 cases this semester. Both McMinn County Schools and Rhea County Schools closed Wednesday, also due to inclement weather.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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