NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A mask mandate remains in place in Metro Nashville Public Schools despite an order from Governor Bill Lee saying parents can have their children opt out of such local policies.
“I believe that this is a case where we have to exert that local control,” said MNPS Board Member Emily Masters. “We have to look at what we know is best for the students and teachers here in our district.”
During his announcement about Executive Order 84, Governor Lee acknowledged that while “local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important.
MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle responded saying the district will review the executive order while keeping the mask mandate in place to protect students and staff members.
Masters said the order is not in line with how Governor Lee and other state leaders have always maintained that local municipalities should make decisions about policies in their communities.
“It was upon hearing all of that reinforcement that this was a decision firmly in our hands, that we call the special session, we decided to mandate mastering schools. And the reality is this is about local control. And the reason that local control of these sorts of policies is so important is because we live it,” Masters said. “I have an 11 year and there are other MNPS parent sitting on the school board. Only we at the local level know what we really need to ensure the safety and again, to ensure what I believe the state wants for our children. I do believe they want our kids to be able to learn in school. And this is a strategy that we at the local level know, is going to work, and it’s going to help.”
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President Joe Biden also voiced concerns about these kinds of decisions from state leaders.
“We will not sit by as Governors try to block or intimidate educators protecting kids against COVID-19,” Biden said. “This isn’t about politics. This is about keeping our kids safe and taking on this virus together.”
There were just under 260 students and staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of school in the Metro district. Masters said district leaders have made various mitigation efforts but it is very difficult to have social distancing.
“We’ve done a lot of work using extra money to improve, you know, ventilation and air circulation in the school. So I mean, we’ve, we’ve done a lot of work to create the right kind of strategies, the right kind of environment. And masks are just another thing we know works. I mean, there’s it’s not debatable. It works,” Masters explained. “The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, I mean, it just is so clear that the recommendations among health experts are for us to mask when we are in close contact and indoors. Unfortunately, we can’t distance as much as we would like in our schools.”