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What does the CDC's revised mask guidance mean for Middle Tennessee schools?

mnps teacher
Posted at 2:19 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 15:25:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — For now, it appears Middle Tennessee school districts will allow parents to decide whether their child wears a mask at school – even after the nation’s top health agency reversed its earlier guidance and recommended that staff and students wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday that it's now recommending people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

The agency is also recommending that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. That includes students, staff, and visitors.

"Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place," CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said Tuesday.


So, what does that mean for Nashville area schools? NC5 reached out to school districts across the area for their responses:

FULL THREAD:

METRO NASHVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

“We are not planning to change our protocols at this time and will continue to highly encourage, but not require, all staff and students to wear masks when schools resume on Aug. 10.”

However, more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition wanting the mask mandate to be reinstated at Metro Schools. Some parents say another concern is students bringing the virus home to their family.

Earlier this month, MNPS officials confirmed the district would for now only "highly encourage" students and staff to wear masks in classrooms this fall. READ MORE HERE.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY:

“A face mask is advised for those under the age of 12 since they have not been eligible to receive a COVID vaccination and encouraged for anyone else. The face mask is a mitigation strategy that helps limit spread of all school-related illnesses.

Consider sending a mask with students to wear if they develop symptoms during the school day and need to use one while awaiting parent pickup.”

MONTGOMERY COUNTY:

“Families are encouraged to use their judgment on sending their student(s) to school with a mask and make whatever decision will be best for the health of their child(ren) or other members of their household.

CMCSS will continue to monitor for any local or state mandates and keep an eye on community transmission, which is currently considered low to moderate in Montgomery County.”

RUTHERFORD COUNTY:

“In April, our school board voted to end the mask requirement at the end of the school year but to allow parents/students and employees to decide whether to wear a mask.

We encourage parents to consider the recommendations of groups such as the CDC, pediatricians, etc. Parents absolutely have the option to send their children to school wearing masks, and as we saw during the summer programs, many chose to do so.”

FROM WILSON COUNTY:

“No changes at this time. It’s possible this may be discussed at our upcoming Board of Education meeting work session this Thursday and meeting on Monday, Aug. 2.”

DICKSON COUNTY:

“It will stay the same as what we have. [The same being they do not have a mask policy in place]. We are continuing to monitor however and we know things are subject to change.”

FRANKLIN SPECIAL SCHOOLS:

“The Franklin Special School District is allowing our parents to make the decision on whether to send their children to school with masks when we open on Aug. 6.

District health leaders have been in continuous communication with local and state health officials. According to the CDC, “Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).”* We understand that the CDC issues general recommendations based on the country as a whole however, we are taking into account local metrics, such as community spread, percentage of people fully vaccinated in Williamson County (55.20%*) and hospitalizations (currently 1 COVID patient in ICU*). If these metrics, among others, indicates a spike in our local community, we have already said publicly that we will reconsider our protocols.”

Note: NewsChannel 5 also reached out to Sumner County Schools but has not yet heard back.


The new recommendations come as parts of the country see COVID-19 cases climb due in large part to the rise in the more transmissible delta variant. Even though other cities across the country are returning to mask-wearing, Nashville officials suggest the city is not at that point just yet.

Metro Public Health said there has been “no discussion of returning to previous public health orders.” That’s according to communications director Brian Todd who followed up by saying, “the best protection is to get vaccinated and the vaccine is free and readily available."