(WATE) — Hancock County Schools says masks will be required on school buses and indoors amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the county.
This requirement comes from Director of Schools Charlotte Mullins. She says several students have tested positive for COVID-19. Hancock County students returned to class Aug. 2.
“While these aren’t a school transmission, the schools must take measures to address the safety of all students,” Mullins said.
According to the Aug. 2 update to the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 county dashboard, Hancock County has 20 active cases, including three new cases on Monday.
The requirement of masks on buses and indoors begins on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened school districts with potential legislative force if they choose to issue a mask mandate or close schools due to the pandemic.
“We want parents making the decision on whether to wear masks in schools,” said Sexton. “So, I sure hope school systems do not require a mask mandate for these students and if they do, I’m going to ask the governor for a special session.
Lt. Governor Randy McNally is taking different approach saying he trusts local school boards to make the right decision for their communities.
“I am tremendously glad that Governor (Bill) Lee and my colleagues in the General Assembly had the foresight to address learning loss as a result of the pandemic,” McNally said Tuesday evening. “Most students learn best in the classroom. We have always suspected it and now we know it for certain. School systems do not currently have the same authorization to go virtual as they did last year and I believe that is a good thing.
“While I am firmly against a statewide mask mandate, I trust locally elected school boards to do what is necessary to keep their students healthy and their doors open. While I would have to see the specific proposal, I have always been in favor of school choice, pandemic or no pandemic.”