A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt their kids out of wearing face coverings at school.
Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw ruled Williamson County Schools and the Franklin Special School District can enforce mask mandates in their school systems despite Lee’s executive order.
According to court documents, Judge Crenshaw’s ruling prohibits Lee from implementing Executive Order 84 in either district. The injunction goes until October 5.
“Based on the record before the court, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Williamson County, including at plaintiffs’ schools, along with a significant number of students who have opted out, plaintiffs have likewise been denied access to a safe, in-person education experience,” Crenshaw wrote in his 18-page decision.
This comes after Williamson County School Board members voted to extend the mask requirement until mid-January on Monday. The mask requirement includes students, staff and visitors at all grade levels, who are inside all buildings and on buses, through January 19, 2022.
Previously, two other judges have also halted Lee’s executive order in Knox County and Shelby County. All three lawsuits claim that Lee’s order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the exclusion of students with disabilities from public educational programs and activities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with certain disabilities are more vulnerable to serious illness or death if they get COVID-19.
According to data from the Tennessee Department of Education, the number of Tennessee school-aged children testing positive for COVID-19 has seen a significant drop from prior weeks. Tennessee Health Department shows hospitalizations among children are also at their lowest levels in nearly a month and the cases among all ages have continued to drop as well.
– – –
Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]