RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Rutherford County school board did not take any action regarding its mask policy at Thursday’s school board meeting.
Several people spoke during the public comment period and said they wanted to keep the meeting calm, unlike what happened in Williamson County earlier this week during a discussion about masks in schools.
“I’m concerned about mandating them [masks]. I saw that in Williamson County obviously, they did. COVID obviously is real. As a healthcare provider I’m aware of that,” said Registered Nurse Erica Casher. “But, it’s been used to take away our individual liberties over the last year.”
She felt masks should be a parent’s choice. Others said masks could help to protect the entire school community.
“This isn’t like wearing a seatbelt. It doesn’t just protect you because the mask does more to protect others from what the wearer is breathing out,” Heather Cecil told board members. “So, the argument that ‘if you’re scared then make your child wear one, leave mine alone’ won’t work here. If we can do it when we were in less danger when our children were here last year to protect us adults then we have to do it now when their own health is under attack.”
The Rutherford Education Association’s president told the board there were not enough protocols to protect children who can’t be vaccinated and social distancing will be almost impossible.
“There seems to be little to no protocols in place at any level,” said Geneva Cook. “We understand it’s best for students to be in school but what will the consequences be of having so few mitigation measures in place?”
The board did vote to approve two emergency policies. One that was required by the state established the expectations on asynchronous opportunities for students who test positive with COVID-19 or were quarantined due to exposure. They also approved the Emergency Quarantine Policy which grants all employees five days of leave to be used one time if the employee is contact-traced because of being exposed to COVID-19 at work.
The district said students or staff who are identified as a possible contact of a positive case and are exhibiting symptoms will not be able to attend school until they have been cleared of COVID-19. The district said possible contacts who are not exhibiting COVID-10 symptoms “will be strongly encouraged” to quarantine, but the health department will have the ultimate authority to say who will be quarantined in Rutherford County.