Oak Ridge Schools will not require face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Monday allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates issued by school or health boards. However, Oak Ridge Schools will continue to strongly recommend students wear masks in schools where there is an increase in confirmed COVID cases or evidence of the virus being transmitted in the building.
Before the governor’s order, Oak Ridge Schools had required masks at three schools: Jefferson Middle School, Robertsville Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School. Now, the use of masks is strongly encouraged in those schools but not required. All three schools have reported more than 20 COVID cases each.
The governor’s order allowed parents and guardians to use a written notification to opt out of mask mandates for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some parents and government officials supported the order, while others, including doctors and parents, opposed it. School districts in Nashville and Shelby County said they will continue to require masks. That prompted a retort from Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, who said that “the governor and the General Assembly cannot and will not allow lawful orders to be defied.”[Read more…]