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Executive Order Complicating Mask Discussion For Jackson Board

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Executive Order Complicating Mask Discussion For Jackson Board

The Jackson County School Board considered whether a mask mandate might help keep the school system open during its Thursday night meeting.

Parents on both sides of the topic gave their opinion, as the system is in its second week with 31 positive COVID cases. A mandate was not on the agenda and no vote was taken on the subject.

However, Director of Schools Kristy Brown said that Governor Bill Lee’s executive order letting parents opt out of any mask mandate has complicated the topic moving forward.

“Boards are more hesitant, well some boards are more hesitant to put mask mandates in place,” Brown said. “Knowing that every parent could opt out if they wanted to. So I think it becomes, can we enforce this and what happens if we cant? Are we really not going to have students at school if they won’t do these things?”

Brown said she is concerned by the spike in cases the system saw during its second week. She said more students are COVID positive than in 2020.

Brown said encouraging masks, making masks available in all school buildings and supporting the parents who send their kids to school wearing a mask is where the district and board of education stands at this point.

“A lot of it does happen outside of school, that’s what we’re seeing with a lot of the quarantines are household contacts,” Brown said. “I’m grateful that parents are willing to let us know when that happens and we’re working with parents and students when they’re out of school so they’re able to do their work and not making that an obstacle for them to be out when they need to be out. We are only able to do so much in our school buildings and trying to keep kids safe as best we can but at this point we’re relying on reporting of what we’re told.”

Brown said she hopes that a spike in cases or concerns from parents does not result in students being pulled out of the classroom over health concerns. She said the way administration, staff and nurses have responded during the second week shows her people on the ground are willing to do what it takes to keep schools open with the tools available.

“Efforts are being made in the classroom to make sure those things are happening,” Brown said. “I know that those rooms and all the high-touch areas in all the schools are being sanitized everyday, in preparation for students to come the next day. We’re seeing the desks are separated as far as we can and just taking those precautions. We’re making those masks available for students that want to wear them.”

Brown said that as of 3:00 PM on Thursday, there were 36 students and staff in quarantine and 31 COVID positive.


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