KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students in Knox County were not in school Monday. Superintendent Bob Thomas says schools would remain closed for the day, so the district could ensure they are in compliance with a federal order.
On Friday, a federal judge issued an injunction in a lawsuit filed by parents of disabled or chronically ill children, seeking to enforce mask-wearing.
“It’s not a joke. The court means what it says when it issues something like this,” said attorney Jesse Nelson.
Nelson is not affiliated with the lawsuit or anything that’s playing out within Knox County Schools.
“What an injunction is just to say, ‘Hey let’s put a hold on anything major happening. Let’s preserve the status quo best we can, and give the process time to play out and all of the evidence to be able to come in, to ultimately make a final determination of what needs to happen,'” he said.
In the meantime, there’s a revised mask mandate in Knox County Schools. But what happens if it’s not followed or enforced?
“If it is a teacher or a group of teachers, that person can be terminated,” Nelson said. “That’s willful insubordination in that instance. Nothing further would likely be required at that point. If the school board as a body came in and said we are not going to enforce the judge’s order, then yes that’s where a court may be more apt to step in and hold the body liable for that.”
While it’s not easy to predict exactly what the ramification could be, Nelson says it’s fair to say there would be one.
“He’s going to want to do that in a way that is as less extreme as possible. But at the same time a federal judge, and I can certainly say this for Judge Greer, wants his orders enforced,” Nelson said.
Nelson also encourages everyone to show each other some grace right now. That is the same message Superintendent Thomas wrote Monday night, saying kindness and grace to school staff will go a long way.