KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —Fewer than 800 of the more than 60,000 Knox County Schools students were not in compliance with a districtwide mask mandate that went into effect Tuesday after a temporary ruling from a federal judge.
KCS Spokesperson Carly Harrington said a total of 722 students who did not comply with the mask mandate were placed into an alternative setting on Tuesday. The total consisted of 207 elementary students, 235 middle schoolers and 280 high school students.
The district said its overall student attendance rate on Tuesday was 90.3% and staff attendance was 93.8%.
Students who refuse to wear a mask are allowed in the school building, but won’t be in their regular classrooms. A parent/guardian is allowed to take their child home for refusing to wear a mask, but it will be counted as an unexcused absence.
The school system will be following the same disciplinary measures as last year:
- 1st offense: Verbal warning
- 2nd offense: Verbal warning
- 3rd offense: Removed from the general population
- 4th offense: Parent pick-up
Tuesday marked the first day of classes for Knox County Schools since Senior United States District Judge Ronnie Greer issued a temporary injunction telling Knox County Schools to enforce a mask mandate after several families of Knox County students filed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order and Knox County Schools’ lack of mask mandate violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Greer’s temporary ruling also temporarily blocks Gov. Bill Lee from enforcing Executive Order No. 84 which allows parents to opt their child out of school mask mandates.
Knox County Schools were closed Monday so the district could ensure they are in compliance with the federal order, KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas said in a letter to parents on Sunday.
That Knox County lawsuit came after the Board of Education voted 5-4 against a mask mandate in its schools on Sept. 1. Parents of four Knox County Schools students filed a lawsuit claiming their children are “unable to safely attend school without increased risks of serious injury or even death, unlike their nondisabled peers” without an enforceable mask mandate in place.