Williamson County Schools notified students, parents, staff and visitors Saturday about a mask mandate policy change effective Monday, September 27.
WCS Communications Director Carol Birdsong’s message stated, “On Friday afternoon, September 24, in regard to a lawsuit filed against the State of Tennessee, Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining Governor Bill Lee from enforcing Executive Order 84, which allowed parents to opt out of the Williamson County Board of Education’s mask mandate on a purely voluntary basis.”
As part of the ruling, the court also ordered the district to enforce its mask mandate without allowing voluntary parental opt-outs such as those allowed under Executive Order 84.
The Court found that to do otherwise would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, stating that a universal mask mandate is a reasonable accommodation required to allow disabled students access to Williamson County Schools.
WHAT IT MEANS
If your child has previously been granted a religious or medical exemption, those exemptions will continue to be honored. The same applies to staff. Please consult with your school nurse if you have any questions related to your child’s health.
If your child has been excused from wearing a mask due to the voluntary parental opt-outs that have been granted under Executive Order 84, your child will be required to wear a face covering to school effective immediately. The same pertains to staff and volunteers.
The Williamson County School Board voted last Monday to extend the temporary mask mandate for students, staff and visitors at all grade levels, inside all buildings and on buses, through January 19, 2022.
“The School Board’s vote to extend the mask requirement provides the district with the opportunity to keep one of our mitigation strategies in place as we move through end-of-the-semester testing and the holiday season,” said WCS Executive Director of Health and Safety Gary Anderson said.
“This vote will provide consistency in operations and expectations in our schools during these times.”
Teachers and staff who are distanced six feet away or more may remove their masks while indoors. They may also remove their masks during outside activities. Any essential volunteer working directly with students is expected to wear a mask.