Schools, state offices closed Friday

Oak Ridge Schools and Tennessee government offices will be closed Friday because of weather and road conditions, and Oak Ridge city offices will open late.

Anderson County government offices could be closed Friday as well, although a decision hadn’t been announced as of 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Winter weather that started Thursday included freezing rain, ice, snow, and cold temperatures, and state offices and schools were closed Thursday also while some city offices closed early.

The cold weather is forecast to continue Friday, although no snow is forecast after midnight Thursday in Oak Ridge.

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Students who posted shooting threats charged with terrorism, mass violence threats

Oak Ridge High School was on lockdown on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, after administrators were made aware of a shooting threat posted on social media. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The Oak Ridge Police Department has charged three students with terrorism and threats of mass violence after they allegedly made school shooting threats in two separate incidents on social media on Monday and Tuesday.

The charges were filed in Anderson County Juvenile Court on Wednesday afternoon, and the court authorized the detention of the children in the Richard L. Bean Detention Facility in Knox County. The children were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon, Seventh Judicial District Attorney General Dave Clark said.

All three juveniles were charged with terrorism, threat of mass violence on school property, and false report. Two of the children were allegedly involved in a shooting threat posted on Snapchat on Monday, and they were also charged with conspiracy. That threat led to a lockdown at Oak Ridge High School on Monday. The third child was allegedly involved in a separate shooting threat that was posted on Snapchat on Tuesday, and that student will face the first three charges.

Clark said the children are required to have a detention hearing quickly under Tennessee law, and that hearing could occur as soon as Thursday afternoon in Anderson County Juvenile Court.

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Student identified, charges pending in new shooting threat

The Oak Ridge Police Department has identified the student responsible for posting a new shooting threat on Snapchat about Oak Ridge High School, and charges are pending, city and school officials said Wednesday.

“ORHS had another social media shooting threat last night,” the City of Oak Ridge said in a brief statement. “The juvenile suspect was identified overnight, and the threat was determined not viable. Charges are forthcoming. School continued as normal this morning.”

The new Snapchat threats were posted at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, after two students were identified as being responsible for a previous threat posted Monday, according to information from Oak Ridge Schools.

“We immediately contacted the Oak Ridge Police Department and are pleased to share that they have been successful in identifying the student responsible for posting these threats,” school officials said. “We are appreciative of their expedient action and resolve of this safety concern.”

Families received a phone call about the new threats early Wednesday.

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ORPD to be at ORHS Tuesday after lockdown Monday

The Oak Ridge Police Department will have an increased presence at Oak Ridge High School on Tuesday following a lockdown on Monday, Oak Ridge Schools said.

The lockdown came after a shooting threat on social media that school administrators learned about on Monday.

“After learning of this threat, we immediately placed ORHS on a Level 3 lockdown and contacted the Oak Ridge Police Department,” Oak Ridge Schools told families Monday evening. “The ORPD will ‘continue to investigate and keep students safe’ during this situation. As the City of Oak Ridge press release stated, we too ‘appreciate the seamless coordination and efforts between the school system, city, and ORPD as this investigation continues.'”

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Updated: Mask mandate terminated at Oak Ridge Schools

Bill Lee

 

The face mask mandate at Oak Ridge Schools has been terminated in response to new state legislation signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

Oak Ridge Schools notified families of the change last week.

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Bill Lee

Note: This story was last updated at 7 a.m. Nov. 16.

The face mask mandate at Oak Ridge Schools has been terminated in response to new state legislation signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

Bill Lee

 

The face mask mandate at Oak Ridge Schools has been terminated in response to new state legislation signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

Oak Ridge Schools notified families of the change last week.

The rest of this story is available if you are a member: a subscriber, advertiser, or contributor to Oak Ridge Today.

Already a member? Great! Thank you! Sign in here.

Not a member? No problem! Subscribe here:

Basic

Pro

Temporary

If you prefer to send a check, you may do so by mailing one to:

Oak Ridge Today
P.O. Box 6064
Oak Ridge, TN 37831

We also have advanced subscription options. You can see them here.

We also accept donations. You can donate here. A donation of $50 or more will make you eligible for a subscription.

Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today. We appreciate your support!

COVID cases increasing much faster in schools this year

This graph compares COVID-19 cases in Oak Ridge Schools at the beginning of the school years 2020 and 2021. (Chart by Oak Ridge Today with Oak Ridge School data and Flourish visualization)

So far, the number of COVID-19 cases in Oak Ridge Schools has increased about 15 times faster this year than last year.

At about this time last year, there were 12 cases of COVID-19 reported in Oak Ridge Schools.

This year, in the same time period, there have been 181 cases reported.

Graphing the two together makes last year’s increase in cases seem relatively flat compared to the large increase in cases this year.

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Oak Ridge school board approves mask mandate

Oak Ridge school board member Angi Agle, right, proposed a mask mandate inside Oak Ridge school buildings, and her motion was seconded by board member Ben Stephens, left. The school board approved the mandate, which has a written opt-out per an executive order by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, in a 3-1 vote on Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.

Note: This story was last updated at 12 a.m.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education approved a mask mandate in a 3-1 vote on Monday.

The approval of the mask mandate, which is similar to a mandate at four Anderson County schools, occurred as the school system reported about 180 COVID-19 cases among students and staff members in less than three weeks. COVID cases have now been reported at all schools: the preschool, all four elementary schools, both middle schools, the high school, and Secret City Academy.

The mask mandate approved Monday will require masks indoors in school buildings unless the school system has received a written opt-out notice from a parent or guardian in compliance with an executive order issued by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee last week.

The Oak Ridge school year started Wednesday, July 28, with face masks being optional. However, as cases increased significantly in three schools, masks were required there. Those three schools were Jefferson Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School.

But when the governor announced his order last week, Oak Ridge Schools said it would no longer require masks. That changed with the mandate approved by the school board on Monday.

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