'It's exhausting.' Parents navigate patchwork of school masking plans

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Posted at 9:57 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 01:45:01-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's just some of the fallout from the state legislature's special session: how will local school districts get to decide whether to institute a mask mandate during the pandemic?

One bill lawmakers passed during the special session says school districts can only issue mandates in very limited circumstances, including new case rates of more than 1,000 per 100,000 of the population — levels only reached during the very peaks of the COVID pandemic.

The bill awaits Gov. Bill Lee's signature, but in the meantime, parents say it's easy to get confused.

"You know, it's just every day, one day at a time, you try and figure out, do we have masks, do we not have masks," said parent Emily Plotkin.

That's especially true in Williamson County, where in addition to the newly-passed bill, Williamson County Schools and the Franklin School District are in the middle of a federal lawsuit, where a judge has stopped Gov. Lee's executive order that would allow parents to opt their kids out of wearing masks in schools for any reason, but that order could be overturned by a higher judge.

"It's exhausting for everybody, to the point where people make mistakes, and if you start out with good intentions, when you don't know for sure what the answer is, or what you're supposed to be doing, you don't always make the right choice, either," Plotkin said.

Mask mandates are still in effect in Metro Nashville Schools, Williamson County Schools and the Franklin School District, among others.

But if the new bill passed by the legislature about mask mandates becomes law, Franklin Special School District says it will drop its mask mandate, while Metro Schools and Williamson County Schools say they will wait to communicate to parents what their next steps will be.