Williamson County Schools are not talking after the first day in which students were required to wear masks, offering no insight into whether the newly-imposed mandate worked as planned.
Friday, Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw ruled Williamson County Schools could force students to wear masks, temporarily halting an executive order by Gov. Bill Lee (R) that previously made masks optional.
Lee’s Executive Order 84 says “a student’s parent or guardian shall have the right to opt out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through twelfth-grade to wear a face covering at school, on a school bus, or at school functions, by affirmatively notifying in writing the local education agency or personnel at the student’s school.”
But Crenshaw struck down that order, at least for now.
“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, justifying his decision.
Monday, The Tennessee Star reached out to Williamson County Schools Communications Director Carol Birdsong for an update after the forced policy change.
She did not return The Star’s comment request.
The decision to force students to wear masks comes amid a steep drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health (DOH).
Further, DOH data shows that COVID-19 deaths among children are extraordinarily rare. In fact, only 20 people in the state under the age of 20 have died from COVID-19 since the state began keeping records. Eight of those people were children under the age of 10.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to all Americans ages 12 and over, and Pfizer is expected to request Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to give the shot to children aged five to 11 in the near future.
Whether that will change the mask mandate policy remains to be seen, as the COVID-19 virus can still spread among those who are vaccinated.
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