All students, except those with medical or religious exemptions, will be required to wear a mask at Williamson County schools starting Monday.
In a message to families on Saturday, WCS communications director Carol Birdsong told families that exemptions will continue to be honored, but those who were previously excused from “voluntary parenting options” granted under the governor’s decree Bill Lee and others will be required to wear face coverings. . The same goes for staff and volunteers.
“Please consult your school nurse if you have any questions regarding your child’s health,” Birdsong wrote.
It comes after U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. issued an order on Friday blocking Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allow parents and guardians to remove students from district mask mandates.
“The record at this point shows that the temporary universal mask mandates adopted by the Williamson and Franklin County school systems have been, and likely would continue to be, effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” Crenshaw wrote .
The order applies only to Williamson County and responds to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by two families of disabled WCS students.
In the trial, the families sued the state and both WCS and Franklin Special School District, claiming the opt-out order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The families and the lawyer argued that the order put medically vulnerable children at risk.
The original decree was due to expire on October 5 at 11:59 pm The judge’s temporary ruling is expected to do the same.
Judges in Memphis, Knoxville also made similar decisions regarding Shelby and Knox counties.
WCS school board opted to extend mask tenure at its September board meeting on Monday. The initial mask requirement for elementary school students, adopted on August 10 at a lively school board meeting now nationally monitored, and expanded later this month for middle and high school students, was initially scheduled to expire September 21.
The mask’s mandate is now in effect until at least January 19.
The Franklin Special School District Board of Education also extended its term on Monday. Students and staff are required to wear masks until at least January 11.
During this time, another group of Williamson County parents sued the WCS board education for the adoption of a mask mandate. In a 220-page lawsuit filed in U.S. district court Wednesday, the group accused the district of “willfully ignoring established science” and “engaging in what amounts to an investigational clinical trial. in a whole school “.
Unsubscribes are currently posted publicly on a weekly basis on the WCS website. These numbers include those with exemptions.
As of September 24, 28 of the district’s 49 school buildings had rates over 30%. Page High School still has the highest rate, with over 52% of students unsubscribing.
The district, however, continued to see a drop in the number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines throughout September. In August, the numbers were increasing week by week with a peak of 544 student cases and 105 staff member cases reported as isolated with a confirmed case of COVID-19 on August 27.
However, a decline began shortly after the WCS school board expanded its mask mandate on August 26. As of September 24, 111 students and 41 staff were in isolation with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Anika Exum is a reporter for the Tennessean and covers Williamson County. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @aniexum.
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