KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The mask mandate in Kingsport City Schools has expired after board of education members voted not to extend it Tuesday night.
There was a motion to extend the mandate until Nov. 16, but it failed to receive a second and was not voted upon.
If the mandate had been extended, board members said an opt-out option would have been required per Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order. Kingsport City Schools had also previously decided that district employees and visitors would have the option to opt-out of wearing a face covering.
During a presentation at the meeting, KCS Assistant Superintendent Andy True said that around 26% of the student population had opted out of wearing masks. According to True, as many as 38.5% of the students at Dobyns-Bennett High School had opted out.
School board members said declining cases and quarantines in the district factored into the decision. During October, including Fall break, the district reported 50 cases among students and staff.
Board President Jim Welch made the motion to extend the mask mandate before it failed. He said parents need to still mask their children to keep cases low.
“I’m hoping that we have a lot of parent support the keeps a healthy population of masked students in,” Welch said. “It’s not all off at once or we could very well be back to where we started.”
The Kingsport Board of Education has the option to reinstate a mask mandate with parental opt-out if cases increase, but the earliest they could do that is next month’s board meeting on November 16.