RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Rutherford County School Board ended its special called meeting Tuesday without taking action on a COVID-19 mask policy for the district. That was after several hours of public comments from members of the community on both sides of the debate on masks in the classroom.
“If something happens to my daughter and you mandate these masks and I have to put her in a mask and she gets severely sick from that and she dies or she gets so depressed that she takes her own life, God forbid that happen, the blood will be on your hands,” said Pastor Robert Brooks.
The district released its latest COVID-19 data between Aug. 30th and Sept. 3. There were more than 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases among students, along with more than 10,000 students quarantined for at least one day. On the staff side, there were 90 positive cases and 556 district employees quarantined for at least one day.
“Rutherford County a 60% increase, which is more than our two neighboring counties combined at 57%. These other counties required masks in their public-wide school systems,” said Murfreesboro resident Sam Ruckaloo. “Comparing all three counties’ districts, Rutherford County has three times the student positive cases as Williamson County and two times more positive cases than Metro Nashville.”
Masks are optional for Rutherford County Schools, but district leaders have highly recommended them to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“We have seen that masks have been successful. The data that is in front of you is proof,” said Central Magnet High School Student Delaney Reynolds. “So why are we not mandating them? A mask mandate is not a political issue, it is not an infringement on your rights. It is simply an act of compassion.”
Governor Bill Lee‘s executive order allowing parents to opt-out of mask mandates enacted by local school districts remains in place.
“Two weeks of flattening the curve has turned into 18 months of masking harder, outrageous contact tracing and quarantine policies, and in addition to the push of experimental injections,” said resident Lindsey Holt.
After listening to hours of comments, the school board did not vote to change the district’s policy on masks. Board members intended on having a work session after the special called meeting Tuesday but the meeting went on for hours. They have their regularly scheduled board meeting set for Thursday at 5:00 p.m.
District Communications Director James Evans told News 2 it will be up to the Board to decide whether they plan to revisit the mask discussion or not.