Not only has the county as a whole seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, but the increase has been felt within the county’s schools as well.

Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases among staff and students, Surgoinsville Elementary, Surgoinsville Middle and Volunteer High Schools will move back to 100% virtual instruction.

Surgoinsville Elementary began 100% virtual instruction on Tuesday, Nov. 17 and will continue through the Thanksgiving holiday break, Friday, Nov.27.

Surgoinsville Middle and Volunteer High Schools began virtual instruction on Nov. 18 and will also continue through Friday, Nov.27.

Students at all three schools will return to regular schedule, in-class instruction on Monday, Nov. 30.

Cafeteria staff at all three schools will provide meal pick-up service daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on site.

Hawkins County actually broke its record yet again for the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported in one day.

On Monday, Nov. 16, the county saw 51 new cases. That record was previously held by Nov. 9, when the county saw 42 new cases that day. Before that, the record was held by Aug. 3 when the county saw 38 new cases in a day.

Once Hawkins County Schools began in-person instruction, Director of Schools Matt Hixson explained that any surges in COVID-19 cases would be dealt with at the affected sites, rather than shutting down the entire system each time.

“Surgoinsville Elementary had over half its staff out,” Hixson has said in published reports this week. “VHS has been hit hard with staff and student quarantines. We are now counting up to 200 students out due to quarantine or non COVID illness. All students and staff will be moved to virtual instruction, ensuring the continuation of instruction.”

He added, “If after we quarantine, cases continue to grow, we will shut the sites down, allowing for distancing and cleaning protocols.”

Back in early October, Cherokee High School saw a surge in COVID-19 cases and went to 100% virtual instruction for the entire week before fall break. Thus, the school had two weeks to ‘reset’ before students resumed in-person instruction.

COVID-19 has also negatively impacted HCSS’s bus driving staff.

“We are doing all we can to ensure we have coverage needed to get our students to and from school daily,” Transportation Supervisor Roy Benevides said in a statement on the school’s website. “Routes may be delayed, however, due to drivers picking up additional runs. If your student’s route will be delayed, the transportation department will utilize the parent notification system to notify you of the delay. Please ensure you have updated contact information on file at your student’s school.”

As the Review previously reported, a similar situation is taking place at Rogersville City School. RCS was almost completely virtual from Nov. 2 to Nov. 16.

On Nov. 16, the school reverted back to their ‘AA’ ‘BB’ schedule for students in grades K-12. This means that half of the students will be in the classroom two days per week and the other half will be in the classroom the other two days per week.

Students in grades 3-8 remain virtual as part of this schedule, unless the parent hears otherwise from their child’s teacher. Teachers are also able to bring in specific students for additional tutoring.

All students will have class virtually on Fridays.