Moore Parents: Remote learning applications due by July 28

This school year, parents have the option to send their kids for in person school or stay at home for remote learning. The remote learning application deadline is July 28. {File Photo}

MOORE COUNTY — Last Thursday, the Moore County Board of Education decided to give Lynchburg parents the option to either send their kids to public school for in person learning or keep them at home and participate in remote learning. (To read our full coverage of that meeting, click here.)

However, if you intend to teach your children at home, you’ll need to fill out the school system’s online application prior to July 28. Administrators also plan a remote learning orientation to help parents get acclimated to the at home system. Those orientation will be offered on three dates: Monday, August 3 at 4 p.m. as well as Tuesday, August 4 at 10 a.m. or 7 p.m. Each session will last about an hour and a half.

If after orientation, parents decide that they no longer want to teach their children at home, they will be allowed to change to the in person learning option. Student who initially choose the in person option will have the ability to change to remote learning for the remainder of the grading period.

“At the end of each grading period (nine weeks for LES or twelve weeks for MCHS), students will select to continue remote learning or return to traditional learning,” the school systems website states.

To learn more, visit the school systems website by clicking here. Or for questions, call the Central Offices at 931-759-7303. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Murfreesboro mayor issues mask mandate

On Monday, Murfreesboro Mayor Bill Ketron announced a mask mandate for his county. MTSU will also require masks this fall. {File Photo}

MURFREESBORO — On Monday, Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron joined 10 other Tennessee counties and issued a mandate requiring all citizens and visitors to wear mask “when social distancing is not possible.”

Previously Sullivan, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson, Madison, and Shelby counties (those with independent health departments) had the authority to issue mask mandates. Prior to the July 4 weekend, Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order allowing local mayors and metro executives to do the same.

Since then, Rutherford, Wilson, Sevier, Davidson, Robertson, Sumner, Williamson, Knox, Shelby, Madison, and Hamilton counties have all issued their own mask mandates.

“We received a lot of support from our local businesses including some of our big box stores,” Mayor Ketron stated in a press release. “But the reality is, some of our citizens and visitors just are not taking this health event seriously enough.”

Students at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro will also be required to wear face masks on campus this fall, according to their website.

“If you want to be on campus, if you want the university to continue to stay open, you need to do these things: You need to wear a mask. You have to wash your hands. You need to do the things that the CDC and our local and state health officials ask you to do,” said President Sidney A. McPhee in a CSPAN interview on Friday. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Some locals brace as $600-per-week unemployment ends

More than 714,000 Tennesseans have applied for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the economy in March. {File Photo}

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’ve often heard it said that we’re all in the same storm but not all in the same boat. And it’s true. Some segments of the economy like Internet and healthcare are soaring. Those who work in travel, hospitality, and tourism are struggling.

Many Moore Countians who lost jobs in March have been making ends meet with the help of a $600 a week federal boost to unemployment through the CARES Act called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). That boost will end this Saturday, leaving over 20 million Americans wondering what comes next.

“Between a car payment, food, lights, etc., I’m not sure how we well get by,” says Jill (not her real name) who recently got permanently laid off from the hospitality industry. “I’m also a single mom with two kids who is going to have to buy school supplies.”

The FPUC funding was only ever meant to be temporary. Once the CARES Act expires most folks currently on unemployment will go back to the state benefit that tops out at $275 a week – that’s less than minimum wage for a 40 hour a week position.

Jill says on top of the financial stress, her son with asthma falls in the vulnerable category, and she’s constantly worried about the virus. She says she recognized the temporary blessing of the extra $600 per week and saved a nest egg for when it runs out.

“Many Americans barely get by as it is and it’s proof that wages need to be better,” Jill says.

State officials say it’s important to know that if you’ve been approved for federal FPUC payments and completed certification through July 25 but your claim has not been processed yet, you will still receive those payments retroactively. If you have questions or concerns, contact the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Parents: Moore bus riders should register

Moore County Schools won’t require masks this school year but bus riders will be required to wear masks and register prior to July 30. {File Photo}

According to the plan approved by the Metro School Board last Thursday, the Moore County School Board will not require all students to wear masks to attend the 2020-21 school year. However, students who ride the public buses to school will have their temperature taken prior to boarding the bus and will be required to wear masks while on the bus.

Parents of bus riding students will also need to register their bus rider prior to the first day of school. Only one form per household is required. To view the complete form, click here. If you have questions or concerns, contact Wendy Hart at the Moore County School System’s Central Office 931-759-7303 or visit the Moore County Schools website . Parents should register bus riders by no later than Thursday, July 30 to be eligible to ride the bus on the first day of school, which is August 5. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

COVID-19 Update: 4 Things You Need to Know This Week

{Graphic Courtesy of the TN Dept. of Health}

With the announcement of Friday’s numbers at 2 p.m., Tennessee reported 14,273 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last seven days (3,430 more than the previous week). Our state experienced 77 new deaths this week but the deceased rate remains at around one percent. According to the state, 42,734 total COVID-19 patients have recovered. That’s around 58 percent of reported cases. As of today, around 1.1 million of Tennessee’s 6.8 million residents have been tested. Here’s the top four things you need to know for this week:

1 | Moore County gained seven cases this week. Moore County’s case count jumped 60 percent this week from 17 cases to 28 cases as of Friday. Those 28 cases represent .0004 % of Moore County’s estimated 6,488 population.

2 | Curve not flattened in Tennessee. According to Johns Hopkins University, Tennessee has not successfully flattened the curve and numbers of new cases continue to outpace those who have recovered from the virus. In the last seven days, testing has confirmed 14,373 new COVID-19 cases while Tennessee Department of Health numbers show that 7,299 have recovered.

3| Positivity rate is increasing. When you test more, you get more positives. This is the refrain we’ve heard from some when we post our daily numbers … and, of course, that’s true. That’s why we instead focus on the positivity number – or the total number of new confirmed cases divided by the total number of new tests – to attempt to get an accurate take. Tennessee ended this seven day testing period with a positivity rate of 9 %. According to the World Health Organization, countries conducting extensive COVID-19 testing should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days before re-opening or loosening social distancing restrictions. According to the Cases and Labs by County report on the Tennessee Department of Health website, Moore County has tested a total of 719 folks making Moore County’s positivity rate around 4 %.

4 | Local retailers now require masks. This week, a number of national retailers – including Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Target, CVS, Starbucks, Lowes, and Best Buy – all stated publicly that they would begin requiring all customer to wear a mask inside their stores beginning as early as next week. The move is supported by the National Retail Federation, which on Wednesday stated that “shopping in a store is a privilege, not a right. If a customer refuses to adhere to store policies, they are putting employees and other customers at undue risk.”

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Local Walmarts now require masks

According to their corporate website, all area Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will begin requiring masks on Monday, July 20. {Photo Courtesy of Walmart}

Officials at Walmart and Sam’s Club in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. announced this week that customers must now wear mask to gain entry to all stores.

“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC,” stated Walmart CEO Dacona Smith on their corporate website on Wednesday. To read that complete post, click here.

The new requirement will be implemented at the Winchester, Fayetteville, and Tullahoma Walmarts effective Monday, July 20.

“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities. According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance,” they stated on Wednesday.

To ensure consistency, all stores will have a single entrance. Walmart stores will not provide masks if customer show up without them.

“As we have seen in states and municipalities with mask mandates, virtually everyone either brings a mask or readily complies with the requirement, and we anticipate that to happen in other areas as well,” they said. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

School Board will discuss COVID re-opening plan on Thursday

MOORE COUNTY — What’s the continuous learning plan and/or COVID re-opening plan for Moore County Schools? That question will be front and center at the Metro School Board meeting on Thursday, July 16 at 6 p.m. In order to accommodate what could be a larger crowd, the meeting will take place at the LES Cafeteria.

On June 18, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead told The Lynchburg Times that he planned to stick to the Metro School Board approved schedule if possible. (To read that article, click here.)

“We have a school board approved schedule in place and I’m going to do everything I can to stick to it,” he said. “The one variable I can’t control is the virus.”

Whether or not schools should re-open to onsite learning and what that would look like has been a hot topic in Moore County recently as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise. After holding steady at five total cases up until June 26, Moore County’s case count has since more than quadrupled. As of Monday, July 13 there were 21 total cases with 15 of those being active.

All Metro School Board meetings are open to the general public. To full the full agenda, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Moore courts now require face coverings

Beginning on Monday, July 13 citizens must now wear masks or face coverings over both their mouth and nose to do business at Moore County courts. {File Photo}

LYNCHBURG — Based on a order from the state Supreme Court, Moore County courts and the Moore County court offices will now require face coverings … effective Monday, July 13.

According to the order, nearly anyone entering a courthouse to do court business will be required to wear a face covering over both their nose and mouth at all times while inside the building. This includes judges, court clerks, security officers, probation officers, attorneys, litigants, and witnesses. According to the state officials, the order is an effort to keep all courts open for essential business. Those entering the Moore County Courthouse to conduct non-court related business (ie. renew a license plate, get a copy of a deed, etc.) are not required to wear a face covering if they do not need to conduct court business.

Chief Justice Jeffery Bivins originally issued the state of emergency for Tennessee courts on March 13 and that order was extended on May 26 but for jurors only. The new mandate applies to all courts and court offices.

For more information, contact the Circuit Court Clerk’s office at 931-759-7208 or Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Mayor: No mask mandate in Moore County

Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis says she and Metro Sheriff Tyler Hatfield are in agreement that a mask mandate would be difficult to enforce in Moore County. {File Photo}

MOORE COUNTY — According to Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis, she will not issue a mask mandate in Moore County. On July 3, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order 54, granting Tennessee county mayors and executives the power to issue individual mask mandates in their locations. The Governor’s office official position is that they high recommend but will not require masks.

The following day on Metro Moore County’s Facebook Page, Mayor Bonnie Lewis issued a public statement saying she had no plans to issue such a mandate.

“I do not plan on issuing a mandate in Moore County saying our citizens have to wear a mask,” Mayor Lewis stated. “Sheriff Hatfield and I are in agreement. We don’t have the manpower to police any such action and we don’t think it is the right thing to do here. I understand why the governor wanted to give the decision to the local governments because one size ruling does not fit all. Since the beginning, he has also recommended that we need to be responsible.

“It is obvious that folks are at different levels of comfort with the coronavirus,” she continued. “People are ready to make decisions about what they feel is best for them and their family. I have faith our citizens will be considerate and respectful of others by giving everyone their space – literally and figuratively.”

Larger communities like Davidson County (Nashville), Williamson County (Franklin), Hamilton County (Chattanooga), Robertson County (Springfield), and Sumner County (Gallatin) all issued mandatory mask mandates.

Many officials in southern, middle Tennessee’s smaller, more rural counties choose not to mandate masks. In addition to Moore County, mayors in Coffee, Franklin, Giles, and Lawrence counties have publicly stated that they do no intend to issue a mask mandate.

To express your opinion for or against a mask mandate in Moore County, contact Mayor Lewis at 931-759-7076. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Unemployment rates decrease in all 95 TN counties

{Graphic Courtesy of the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development}

Re-opening the state is causing a marked increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases but it is causing an important decrease in one other area … unemployment. According to the latest numbers by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), the unemployment rate in all 95 Tennessee counties went down during the month of May.

Moore County’s unemployment rate went down to 9.4 percent – down from 12.2 percent the previous month. Franklin County experienced the greatest regional change – down 14.4 percent from 21 percent the previous month. In other surrounding counties, Coffee County is down 5.6 percent from 19.8 percent to 14.2 percent. Bedford County reported 13.9 percent – down 4.7 from 18.6 the previous month. Lincoln County reported an 11.8 percent unemployment rate – down 4.4 percent from the previous month.

This follows a sizeable state wide unemployment rate across Tennessee as business shuttered temporarily as a COVID-19 precaution.

Even with marked improvement, 42 counties had unemployment rates greater than 5 percent, but less than 10 percent. Fifty-three counties, more than half of the counties in the state, had rates greater than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent.

Weakley County had Tennessee’s lowest unemployment rate in May. The county’s new rate of 7 percent is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was in April.

Fentress County had the second-lowest figure in May at 7.1 percent, down from 9.9 percent the month before. Williamson County’s unemployment rate was the third-lowest statewide. At 7.4 percent, the rate is down 3.1 percentage points from the county’s all-time high of 10.5 percent recorded in April.

Sevier County continued to have the highest rate of unemployment in Tennessee. Still, the county’s new rate of 18.5 percent is a staggering drop of 10.6 percentage points from April’s record high of 29.1 percent.

At 17.6 percent, Warren County recorded the second-highest unemployment rate in May, down 7.5 percentage points from April’s rate. Marshall County had the third-highest rate for the month with a rate of 17.5 percent, a decrease of 6.6 percentage points from the previous month’s rate.

The statewide unemployment statistic from May also decreased significantly. The new preliminary rate of 11.3 percent is down from the revised April rate of 15.5 percent. Nationwide, unemployment decreased to 13.3 percent in May, down from the 14.7 percent rate recorded the month before. Unlike the statewide rate, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. To see all county rates, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Musict Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}