Williamson County Board of Education votes to remove mask mandate in schools

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FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A mandate that went into effect several months ago is now no more.

On Monday night, the Williamson County Board of Education voted to remove the existing mask mandate in place in Williamson County Schools. That goes into effect starting Tuesday, Nov. 16.

The decision came despite the legal council, urging the board to defer its decision until a Federal Judge determines whether Governor Bill Lee’s legislation is legal. On Sunday, Judge Waverly Crenshaw of the 6th Circuit issued an injunction after a group of parents filed a lawsuit against Gov. Lee and education leaders claiming the law potentially violates the Americans with Disabilities law.

Two days before, Governor Lee, signed the “COVID Omnibus Bill,” which would restrict how the state will allow government bodies and businesses to operate in response to COVID-19.

“We still have a substantial case of COVID within Williamson County. In just over the past 2 weeks, student cases within our county have approximately tripled,” said one parent during the Williamson County School Board meeting.

In an email sent to parents, Carol Birdsong — Executive Director of Communications — mentioned students, employees, volunteers and visitors who want to continue to wear a mask are welcome to do so.

The debate over whether or not students will be required to wear masks has been a hot-button issue for months, within the district. Back in August, a heated protest erupted and caught the eye of President Joe Biden.

“Masks do not work. Those who continue to vote for this mandate have been using our kids as pawns in your political agenda,” said another parent addressing the board. “There is no federal mandate as has been stated in numerous WCS communications. This mandate was passed by members of this board, and this board alone.”

The original mask mandate went into effect on August 12 for elementary schools in the district. It was later extended to all schools on August 26.

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At least two families in Williamson County are suing Governor Bill Lee and the school board. The lawsuits tackling the opt-out mask option for families, stating it “endangers the lives of students with disabilities.”

Parents of students with any disabilities making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 are asked to contact their school principal to make accommodations.

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