NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - More than 1,300 people have signed a digital petition calling on Metro Nashville Public Schools to reinstate a mask mandate for the upcoming school year.
Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle announced the district's new COVID-19 protocols at the last Board of Education meeting on July 13, which established an optional mask mandate for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Metro Schools officials are recommending that face coverings optional for all students and staff for the upcoming year.
“Wearing a mask is still our best bet to stay safe and prevent the chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19 indoors,” Battle said in a news release. “We highly recommend wearing one at the start of the year, and we will continue to monitor community transmission rates and cases in our schools to adjust our protocols if necessary, to keep everyone safe.”
Students and staff will be highly encouraged to wear masks indoors, but they will not be required. The choice will be up to each student or their parents.
The district strongly encourages any student of staff member who is not vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear their mask while indoors, especially those who have underlying health conditions or who are under the age of 12.
Should Metro Schools reinstate a mask mandate for the upcoming school year?
“This decision is alarming and shortsighted,” the petition’s author wrote. “At the time of this writing, COVID-19 cases are up 25% in our county, and only 48% of those eligible having full vaccination protection.”
The petition states the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate and now people are dealing with the Delta variant, which is more easily transmissible, infectious and resistant to treatment.
“We were hopeful that the leaders of our school district would continue to advocate for our children who are unable to be vaccinated, to continue to do everything in their power to help keep them safe, but we were wrong,” the petition’s author wrote.
“We implore MNPS to reconsider the mask protocol for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. We are still in the midst of a pandemic; it has not ended yet. Until all of our children have the option being vaccinated, we ask that MNPS please reconsider their stance on masking, and do the minimum to continue to keep our children safe.”