‘This is very concerning’: Doctors plead for re-instated mask mandates in schools

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Tennessee with more than 6,000 cases statewide, including 26 deaths reported over the weekend by the Tennessee Department of Health. More than 1,000 people are in the hospital in the state due to COVID with 348 in the ICU and 157 on a ventilator.

What really has doctors on edge, though, is the rise in cases among children. The rise hitting just as the new school year starts to get underway.

It’s why Metro Nashville’s Board of Education is calling for a special meeting this week to discuss COVID mitigation protocols, specifically the use of face coverings.

As the Delta variant spreads, local doctors are pleading with school officials to reinstate mask mandates.

Metro Nashville is seeing the most active cases reported seen since mid-February.

“This is very concerning because we’re seeing more and more younger population being affected by this,” Dr. Diana Sepehri-Harvey, Family Practice Physician said, who has two kids at MNPS.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC are recommending universal indoor masking of children over the age of two and staff, even if vaccinated, due to the rising rate of pediatric infections compared to last year.

“It’s been one of the moments where I have been most afraid for my children and my communities’ children,” Dr. Sepehri- Harvey said.

It’s why she, among several other doctors, is asking for a mask mandate again at MNPS. Right now masks are highly encouraged but not yet required.

She’s inviting parents of MNPS students to join her in signing a petition asking for mask requirements as Davidson County students return on August 10.

Doctors are doing the same in Williamson County, reaching out to the Williamson County School Board strongly requesting that WCS reassesses its current COVID-19 mitigation polities, asking too, for a reinstated mask mandate.

“There are a lot of school districts right now contemplating mask requirements. I will remind you that is a local decision for school boards and there really isn’t a ‘one size fit all’ policy, this is something that school boards need to decide what’s best for them and their communities,” Dr. Lisa Piercey, TDH Commissioner said during a virtual press briefing on Monday.

Though a child’s death due to COVID-19 is rare, Dr. Sepheri-Harvey says even one is too many.

“If we don’t do what’s necessary with the rising covid delta variant and having so many unvaccinated children at schools and with the fact we also have coexisting RSV, another respiratory virus on the rise many infectious disease experts locally and nationally are fearing for the worst this fall much worse than what we saw in the schools last year,” Dr. Sepheri- Harvey said. “For any family who has lost a child or has a child in the ICU it doesn’t matter if the numbers are low that’s their baby and that baby shouldn’t be in that place when we could have done something as a community and as a school system to prevent it.”

Metro Nashville Board of Education Chair, Christiane Buggs, has called a special meeting for Thursday, August 5 at 11 a.m. to meet and discuss the COVID mitigation protocols in place for the 2021-22 school year.

It will be held at the MNPS Board Room, at 2601 Bransford Ave, Nashville, TN 37204.

The meeting will also be streamed via the Metro Nashville Network.

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