NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Dr. Adrienne Battle is recommending the Board of Education adopt a universal mask policy for indoors and on buses for the upcoming school year.
Battle's statement on Wednesday comes after Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced the city would require face coverings at all Metro government buildings. The school board will meet Thursday to discuss COVID protocols, including masks, before the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Read Battle’s full statement:
“As a result of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and spread of the delta variant, the recommendations from the CDC and AAP, along with the Mayor’s new mask mandate for Metro facilities, it would be my recommendation to the Board that we adopt a universal mask policy, indoors and on buses, for the start of the 2021-22 school year in order to keep our student, staff, and their families as safe as possible.
I wish that more Americans had taken advantage of the life-saving vaccine that has been available to them, so that the pandemic would be less of a factor in the lives of our students and a universal mask mandate would not be necessary. I’m hopeful that more community members will get the vaccine so that we can mitigate the spread of the virus and return to a normal school setting. Metro Schools will continue to do our part to promote vaccination events for our students who are eligible, their families, and our staff, along with the other mitigation protocols that can reduce transmission of the virus.”
The new school year starts next week on August 10. Earlier this month, MNPS said that for now, the district would only "highly encourage" students and staff to wear masks in classrooms this fall.
However, on Monday, the board said it would convene on Thursday to “discuss and potentially take action on the COVID protocols, specifically face-masks, in light of new CDC guidance and the delta variant.”
TEACHER SURVEY SHOWS DISCOMFORT GOING BACK TO CLASS
A survey provided to MNPS teachers and staff revealed that some educators aren't "comfortable" going back into the classroom this fall.
The survey -- performed by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association -- indicated nearly 58% of the 756 surveyed felt unsafe with current guidelines heading into the school year. Currently, MNPS protocols deem masks as optional. The education association survey also found that nearly 66% of teachers wanted a mask mandate.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton announced this week that he would call for a special session to challenge any district who imposed one.
Emily West contributed to this article.