Some parents disappointed after no COVID-related action taken at Kingsport School Board meeting

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Kingsport Board of Education discussed COVID-19 for about two hours during a work session Tuesday evening.

The School Board did not make any changes to its COVID-19 policies.

Several parents showed up to the work session in support of a mask mandate, wearing stickers that read “My child caught COVID at a Kingsport city school.” There were also parents in attendance who opposed a mask mandate. Because the meeting was a work session, there was no public comment period.

Matt and Amy Collette said school leaders are taking too long to make changes. Their daughter, a second-grader at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago.

“It was pretty nervewracking as a parent because we didn’t know how it was going to impact her,” Matt Collette said.

Their daughter’s symptoms were mild but they lasted for about a week. Matt tested positive a week later and although he has returned to work after testing negative, he is still on the mend. Now, their fourth-grader is experiencing symptoms.

“Today she’s not feeling too great, we’re going to probably have her tested tomorrow,” Matt said.

While Matt stayed home, Amy went to Tuesday night’s School Board meeting, concerned with the lack of a mask mandate in Kingsport schools.

“Looking at our numbers right now, it feels scary as a parent so I would hope that they would put something in place,” Amy said.

She wanted board members to take action during the work session.

“I expected there to be some sort of decision. I know it’s a work session versus a board meeting,” Amy said.

Many members of the board spoke in favor of a mask mandate as a mitigation effort.

“I see that as a potential to help mitigate, you know, we have 10% of kids masked right now,” said board member Todd Golden.

Board members agreed a district-wide mandate would require a board vote. Board members discussed whether they or Superintendent Dr. Jeff Moorhouse had the authority to implement school-specific temporary mandates.

Moorhouse has the authority to make changes to the district’s COVID-19 protocols, but it was unclear if temporary mandates fall under that.

Amy left frustrated because she thinks they should have discussed the issue long ago.

“It feels like everything they discussed today should’ve been discussed four weeks ago, six weeks ago,” Amy said.

A potential slot from a special-called meeting of the board was identified for Friday; however, the board did not express any interest to meet at that time.

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