KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Oak Ridge Schools students will no longer be required to wear a mask. In a letter to school staff and parents, the school system cited the state law signed two weeks ago by Gov. Bill Lee that limits when public schools and businesses can issue such mandates.
“The Oak Ridge Schools has been advised that the referenced legislation is effective immediately and that it supersedes and ends the authority of the Oak Ridge Board of Education to enact and enforce a mask mandate policy during the pandemic,” the letter states.
“Accordingly, effective immediately, the school system’s mandatory face covering policy is terminated and will no longer be enforced. The continued use of voluntary face coverings by all members of the school community is encouraged for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
As of Tuesday, Nov. 23, there are seven students and two staff in Oak Ridge Schools currently with COVID-19, according to the school system’s website. Since the start of the school year, 367 students and 30 staff have contracted COVID-19. Robertsville Middle has had the most cases this year, with 96 students and seven staff cases. Oak Ridge High School has had 83 students and five staff contract COVID.
The school system instituted an indoor mask mandate in late August after issuing such mandates on a school-by-school basis. The change came three weeks after Willow Brook Elementary was put under a mask mandate as cases of the virus rose there.
Lee allowed his executive order imposing a state of emergency in Tennessee to expire on Friday, Nov 19.