News Ticker

School mask mandate returns

The Wilson County School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a face covering mandate until the next board meeting on Oct. 4.
“I feel like I am doing what is the best at this time,” said Director of Schools Jeff Luttrell.
Luttrell said that he conferred with many experts over the past several weeks to understand what they can do as a school system to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The first couple of weeks have seen a huge number of positive cases, which prompted the school system to close for 10 days to help get people healthy and back in school. Over 90 classrooms were without teachers the Friday before the break, and nearly 900 kids had tested positive in the first few weeks of school. Last year, 1,300 students tested positive the entire school year.
“I wish I could make this go away, we all do,” said Luttrell.
Luttrell said that the state had limited the actions they could take like going into hybrid. However, they did give them the option to apply for a waiver to move a school or particular classroom to virtual. This was after the school system decided to close for a week. At the time of the meeting, there had been 15 waivers and 10 were approved.
Luttrell said that while there haven’t been any deaths tied to a case at school, he didn’t want to be responsible for that happening because he didn’t take the measures he thought were the right thing to do.
“I don’t want that grandmother that is raising that child to be exposed to something,” said Luttrell. “To me that is bigger than all of this.”
Parents have the option to opt out based on Governor Bill Lee’s order. Teachers will as well, though that is not the state guidance. Forms are available through Skyward for the opt out.
Board member Kimberly McGee said that she wanted to make sure that no one would be punished for complying or not complying with the mandate. Luttrell agreed that it was not an all or nothing approach. He said if a teacher is six feet away and is teaching, they can pull their mask down. Students can take mask breaks. Teachers can do a lesson outside to give kids a break.
The item will be revisited in the Oct. 4 meeting, and Luttrell will make recommendations based on the current state of the spread of the virus.
It was announced at the beginning of the meeting that Zone 3 Board Member Jon White had tendered his resignation from the board.
“Jon was a very valuable member of this board,” said Board Chair Larry Tomlinson.
His seat will be filled by the Wilson County Commission until the next election in 2022.