KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Bus contractors for Knox County Schools held an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the federal court order for masks in Knox County Schools, according to a press release from the bus contractors.  

The release stated contractors originally voted to halt services on Monday but later reversed that decision because they felt children and parents would not have time to be informed of the change. Tammy Williams with Knox County School Bus Contractors said they didn’t want children to be waiting at their bus stops Monday morning if no bus was going to come.

“The kids are our number one priority. And upon further discussion and talking, we want to make a stand, we want people to know what’s going on and how we feel. But we also want to keep our children safe,” Williams said. “And our concern was, these kids are going to be at bus stops, and may not know that the bus isn’t going to run. So then what’s going to happen to these kids if they’re standing at a bus stop and there’s never a bus?”

The release also said, “Bus drivers are already taxed with transporting thousands of children daily and drivers foresee a very difficult, if not impossible, task of ‘enforcing’ this court order.” 

“Think of trying to get 60 kids to wear their mask. Some of them are going to be great about it. But some of them you can’t make them wear the masks,” Willaims said. “So what is going to be the punishment if we can’t get the child to wear the mask? But I guess we wanted to know what are the punishments This came down so fast so quick. And nobody knows what in the end is going to happen.”

A spokesperson with Knox County Schools said, “We work with bus contractors on a daily basis to provide bus service to our students. We are not asking them to do anything different than they did last year. If a student does not have a mask, we are requesting that they offer them one. Any other action would be the responsibility of Knox County Schools. We are very appreciative of our drivers and contractors and the service they provide to our students and families.”