When did schools start closing for illness in East Tennessee? Here’s a brief history

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you come from a time when teachers could smoke cigarettes in the lounge and girls’ hairbrushes had hairspray built into the handle, you may be wondering when illnesses started shutting down entire school systems.

The answer depends on where you live. In general, it became less “unprecedented” sometime between the eras of popular mullets and Nirvana’s first chart-topping album. Or the rise of Garth Brooks in country music and A Tribe Called Quest in hip-hop, if those musical references help you.

We searched through the archives of WBIR and local newspapers in East Tennessee. One of the first major closures for flu was in January 1985 when Hancock County canceled classes for four days.  Then there were one-day school closures in 1989 for illness in Blount and Scott counties.

Continue Reading on WBIR 10


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