Sullivan County BOE votes not to require masks in schools

Back To School

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – After multiple challenges died, the Sullivan County Board of Education voted not to require masks for students on Monday.

During public comment, citizens requested both a mask mandate and a delayed decision, but board members voted to adopt the guidelines with one major alteration: the removal of language that did not require masks on school buses due to federal guidelines.

Vice-Chairman Matthew Spivey voiced his concerns over potential legal challenges from the wording and overlapping federal health regulations regarding kids on buses.

Spivey also voiced concern over lack of options for parents worried about a rising number of COVID-19 cases and possible impacts of the Delta variant.

One parent spoke with News Channel 11 regarding her fears over sending her daughter back to school:

“Kids in elementary school, they don’t have a vaccine. They don’t have anything to protect these kids, and you just stripped everything away from them,” said Whitney Courtney. “I’m terrified. I don’t want my kids to be another number, or end up in a hospital on ventilators.”

Speaking to other members of the board, Spivey moved to require masks for the fall or altering wording to “strongly encourage” mask use, though both measures died awaiting a second from other members.

The new guidelines also state that “we will be open and transparent about our cases, but will not distribute a daily case count.”

The full procedures can be found below.

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