Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, has released the following statement in response to Governor Bill Lee’s executive order 84 relative to mask requirements in schools:
“The Metro Nashville Board of Education and I are charged with educating our students and with keeping them safe. Universal masking policies, during the pandemic, are a key mitigation strategy to do just that. To allow anyone to opt out of these policies for any reason, other than legitimate medical need, would make them ineffective and would require more students to be quarantined and kept out of the classroom.
“The Governor’s executive order was released without prior notice to school districts for review or comment. As such, Metro Schools will continue to require face masks, pursuant to the rules adopted by the Board, as we further review this order and explore all options available to the district to best protect the health of our students, teachers, and staff.”
For several weeks and months prior to the announcement today, Governor Lee, Commissioner Schwinn, and Commissioner Piercey have all said that mask policies are a local decision for school boards to make.
On Thursday, August 5, the Metro Nashville Board of Education adopted a policy requiring universal masking of all students, staff, and visitors in our facilities consistent with Mayor John Cooper’s executive order for requiring masks in metro government facilities, as well as the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Since that time, COVID-19 case counts in Davidson County and throughout the State of Tennessee have continued to increase. On Monday, MNPS reported that 52 staff members and 207 students had tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous week, with 980 students in isolation or quarantine.
While masks do offer some protections for the wearer against contracting COVID-19, they are most effective at preventing a person infected with COVID-19 from transmitting the virus to others, which is why the CDC recommends universal masking policies in K-12 schools.