MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Rutherford County School Board members unanimously voted to require students to wear masks.
All students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear a mask while in a school building, and all bus drivers will also have to wear either a mask or face shield when they can not socially distance from students.
Multiple community members attended the meeting sharing their comments with the board.
One of them was 7th grader Izzy Lysyczyn. She urged board members to issue a mask requirement, saying she doesn't want her friends or other students to have to suffer. The virus is lethal for someone like her mother who is a breast cancer survivor, and her father lost his job when his employer died from COVID-19.
"I know there are many other kids like me that have parents that fear their catching the virus or they have people that are close to them that are at risk. Me and kids that are in similar situations to me we're all disappointed in the decision that we would be returning to school at full capacity," said Izzy.
Director of Schools Bill Spurlock also encouraged board members to reassess the reopening plan in a meeting next week.
"As we look at the spread its got to come down," said Spurlock referring to the number of COVID-19 cases. "But if this keeps trending up we make want to look at modifying our plan...what we don't want to do is go in with these numbers rising."
District leaders say every student is slated to receive at least two cloth masks per person through donations from TEMA and purchases made by the school system. Some select students will also receive face shields.
"So 25,000 face shields will provide enough for every Pre-K through second grade student for when they’re working on phonics," said one district administrator during the meeting.
Trey Lee, Director of Engineering and Construction at Rutherford County, also told the board that they've purchased disposable masks in case a child forgot their mask at home.
While the board was unanimous on masks, there was differing opinions about whether students should return to in-person classes at all. One of the loudest voices came from the youngest speaker.
"Kids will still be able to be bunched up together in classrooms and hallways which eliminates the possibility of social distancing and puts others in danger. To avoid these issues, we could do a half-capacity schedule while wearing masks, either way we need to wear masks," said Izzy Lysyczyn.