Rutherford County Schools discuss COVID protocols, masks at board meeting

Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 11:56:36-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The Rutherford County School Board met Tuesday night to possibly adopt a mask mandate but the board did not take up a motion.

The topic on mask mandates remains divided.

"Can you potentially want to force my child to sit in school all day with her face covered."

One by one parents, teachers and students took spoke to the Rutherford County School board about what they believe is best for students and staff during this pandemic.

"Right now, the only option available to us to seriously stop the spread is a mask mandate; with opt outs, we have seen that counties such as Shelby and Williamson, Metro Nashville who have implemented such practices are seeing case rates, half or a third of what we're seeing," said Will Severn, a junior at Central Magnet School. "It is scientifically proven, it is a reasonable strategy and it's what the board should move towards if they really want to keep students in schools."

Parents like Chris Littleton offered their own ideas and proposals. Littleton discussed solutions like sectioning off school buildings based on parent choice.

"I'm glad that they were open to the idea of having a discussion that is actually get a number of sides together and talk through this and think long term. the fear that I think we all have is that we react to something in one way and it's not going to make the other side happy."

The board didn't make a decision tonight and will continue the discussion tomorrow evening with parents.

Data from the district, which was updated on August 30, painted a picture of what the district is dealing with in terms of COVID-19 cases and quarantine numbers.

The week of Aug. 23 through Aug. 27 saw nearly 1,500 positive cases between students and staff, and 9,832 students were quarantined at least one day. During those dates, 306 total staff were quarantined.

A data breakdown from the district shows the highest number of positive cases for both staff and students was in elementary schools. These schools deal with age groups not yet approved to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Only kids ages 12 and up are eligible.

If the district decides to adopt a mask mandate, it would join two districts in our area, Metro and Williamson County. As of Tuesday, Williamson still allows for an opt-out option in line with Governor Bill Lee's executive order. Metro does not allow for the opt-out option, defying the order while they explore legal options.