Cumberland County students and teachers are stuck wearing facial coverings for the foreseeable future after the local school board chairman cited procedure as a reason not to reconsider their mask mandates.
During an October 22 Board of Education meeting, member Anita Hale asked if the body would ever reconsider its mask mandate. A recording of the board’s videoconference meeting is available on the Cumberland County Board of Education’s Facebook page here.
Hale asked if they were waiting for a vaccine.
Chairman Jim Inman said there was no scheduled date to reconsider the matter, and a member who had voted in favor of the mandate would have to ask to reconsider it. No board member has asked for it to be placed on the agenda, he said.
However, some parents are against the use of facial coverings.
The Crossville Chronicle reported that parents have complained about masks being unclean and not working, as well as issues for special needs students. The board unanimously approved masks for students in July and voted 5-4 to cover up staff members’ faces. Hale was one of those who voted against the latter measure.
During the October 22 meeting, Inman acknowledged parents’ concerns and said, “I’m sure everybody has been hearing from their constituents — as well as I have.”
During the September 29 livestreamed board meeting, a community member posted on Facebook, “Governor Lee lifted all covid related restrictions. Can we please get rid of masks in schools now??”.
In response, a parent posted, “How can they do that meeting and yet my kids go to school. Are they afraid to have a meeting in person.”
During the October 22 meeting, board member Tony Brock defended the use of masks because Gov. Bill Lee recently said people should wear them and because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tightened its guidelines on what constitutes close contact.
The July 23 meeting in which the board voted to require masks generated a heated discussion on Facebook.
One parent wrote, “I will not live in fear nor teach my kids to. If you are that scared then keep yours home.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.