NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A ruling by a federal judge has halted the implementation of Tennessee's new law banning mask mandates in public schools.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight students, all with alleged disabilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which claims their disabilities put them at a higher risk to COVID-19.
On Sunday, U.S. Middle District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. ordered all parties in the lawsuit to maintain the status quo of Nov. 11 — the Thursday before Governor Bill Lee signed the new COVID-19 legislation into effect.
In lieu of the new injunction, Metro Nashville Public Schools will continue to require masks for students and staff.
MNPS Director of Schools, Dr. Adrienne Battle issued the following statement:
MNPS Families and Staff,
This message is to inform you that masks will continue to be required for students and staff in Metro Schools.
As you may be aware, Governor Bill Lee signed into law recently passed legislation that prohibits mask requirements in schools.
On Friday, lawyers representing students with disabilities filed a lawsuit seeking to block this new law from taking effect because it would potentially violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Today, the United States District Court of Middle Tennessee issued an order requiring that the status quo be maintained. For MNPS that means masks will continue to be required until further notice from the court.
Our strong desire is to get to a point where masks are no longer necessary, and our classroom environment looks like it did back before the start of the pandemic. Unfortunately, there is still COVID transmission throughout our community, and we are still seeing dozens of cases a week of students testing positive for the virus. Additionally, the CDC still recommends that K-12 schools adopt universal masking rules to reduce transmission in buildings and while students ages 5-11 have begun receiving their COVID-19 vaccine if their parents want them to, it takes five weeks from the first dose for a person to be considered fully vaccinated.
We would ask for your patience and understanding of the school staff tasked with enforcing these mask requirements until these legal issues can be resolved.
On Sunday, the Franklin Special School District also announced it would maintain its mask requirement for students, employees and visitors.
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has taken action over the weekend, ordering the FSSD to maintain its mask requirement for students, employees, and visitors. A hearing is scheduled for Monday but, until then, masks must remain in place. 1/2— Franklin Special SD (@franklinspecial) November 14, 2021
The court order also indicates a status conference will take place on Monday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.