Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 84, which allows for mask opt-outs for students, was signed August 16, 2021, overlaying action taken earlier by the Williamson County Board of Education.
The Williamson County School Board voted to require masks for students, staff and visitors at the elementary grade levels during a special called meeting on Tuesday, August 10, with an expiration date of September 21 at 11:59 p.m. Due to the governor’s Executive Order, families will now be able to provide a written opt-out for their student regardless of reason. If a student mask exemption is already on file with the school, there is no need to complete an additional form.
“We want to make sure we are very clear with our families,” said WCS Superintendent Jason Golden. “We are continuing to strongly encourage masks, but the need for a medical or religious exemption has shifted to a straightforward, pure opt-out.”
Masks are still required for elementary teachers, staff and visitors, who are not mentioned in the Executive Order. However, teachers who are distanced six feet or more may remove their masks. Volunteers working with students are expected to wear masks at all times.
District leadership continues to be concerned with increasing COVID numbers across the community and within Williamson County schools and the effect of those increasing numbers on the ability to educate students. Virus mitigation strategies are strongly encouraged. Those include staying home when you are sick; frequent handwashing; masks worn by students, staff and visitors; and social distancing as much as possible. COVID numbers, by school, are on the district’s website and updated weekly.
Superintendent Golden has shared that while the district has tools available to help students who are quarantined or out stick continue to learn, transitioning to remote learning is no longer an option. The Tennessee Department of Education no longer allows schools or school districts to transition to remote learning without using an inclement weather day. The district has 10 inclement weather days built into the school year.
More information is available on the WCS Health and Wellness page.