BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Starting Wednesday, students in all grades of Sullivan County Schools will be able to attend class without a mask.
The decision came with a 5–1 vote at the Sullivan County Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.
“The Board of Education felt that with the mayor removing the mask mandate locally and with the governor’s executive order of removing any mask mandate, they felt that we needed to take a look at it ourselves,” Board Chairman Randall Jones told News Channel 11. “The deciding factor for most of us was ‘do the masks really keep the numbers from increasing? Do the masks really help?'”
According to Jones, students will not be required to wear face masks anywhere on school property.
Board members took a different approach than was recommended by Director of Schools Dr. David Cox. He suggested the mask mandate in schools policy continue for the remaining few weeks of the spring semester.
“We came to the conclusion that it needed to be a choice that the parents made with their children and that the teacher’s made themselves,” Jones said. “Now, it’s a personal choice and not a mandate which I think is very important.”
But some parents spoke in favor of the removal of required masks and, in the end, a majority of the board agreed.
Board members also approved a bonus for all Sullivan County Schools employees. Full-time employees will receive a $1,000 bonus. Part-time employees will be paid a $500 bonus. The money will be added to their May paychecks.