Washington County, Tenn. Board of Education discusses mask policy, vaccine uptake

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Washington County Board of Education spent several hours Tuesday evening in a workshop discussing future business and confronting rising COVID-19 cases numbers within the school system.

After more routine topics like potential purchases of much-needed cafeteria equipment across the county and the use of relief funds for stadium renovations, the board turned to the issue of the evening: the spread of COVID-19 within the Washington County School system.

Superintendent Jerry Boyd shared new figures for the board to consider, including a new 23.6% opt-out rate across the system for students whose parents chose not to comply with mask mandates under Gov. Bill Lee’s recent executive order.

The highest opt-out rate was found in David Crockett High School with 32.7% according to Boyd, and the lowest at West View Elementary with 16.9% of students opted out.

According to the county’s dashboard, current student COVID-19 cases number at 201. Some 1,180 students are quarantined.

A large part of the discussion revolved around increasing vaccination within the system after full FDA approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Potential solutions included a vaccine mandate for employees, time-off incentives and public information campaigns to be created by media and theatre students.

Board workshops serve to allow a more flexible environment of discussion before formal meetings and help board members research potential solutions.

No permanent decisions regarding the future of the system were put in place Tuesday night, though the same issues may come back up in the larger meeting Sept. 2.

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