Gov. Lee says he is not changing course on school masks stance despite federal inquiry


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Monday he has no plans to change the state’s school masking policy.

The United States Department of Education announced Monday that it was investigating five states, including Tennessee, over their universal mask bans. Department officials said the policies in question could be considered discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions.

Other states included in the inquiry are Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah and South Carolina.

Lee was in Bristol, Tennessee Monday afternoon for the reopening of USAntibiotics. Lee’s press secretary told News Channel 11 that the governor’s office learned of the investigation while they were on their way to Bristol.

The Department of Education claims the state’s school masking stance could keep some students from safely attending school. Lee said Monday that the health of all Tennesseans is important, but it is still too early in the investigation to comment on it.

“That Department of Education letter just came out today,” Lee said. “Our teams are reviewing those, but I can’t comment on that until we investigate further the particular claims of the letter.”

Lee said he is not changing course on COVID-19 mitigation strategies. He also stressed that getting vaccinated is the best defense against the virus.

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