MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Masks are still required for students and staff in Shelby County, according to the county’s health director, despite a new Tennessee law banning health departments and schools from requiring masks.
That includes both SCS, the state’s largest district, and the smaller municipal school districts in Shelby County.
Dr. Bruce Randolph sent a memo to school officials Monday telling them the local health order remains in effect because of recent orders by federal judges.
“Please be advised any instance of students, teachers, staff, or visitors not wearing masks while indoors at school, is a violation of the Health Order No. 27, and consequently, the court orders as well. Therefore, please continue to wear masks as required,” the memo stated.
“Schools have enjoyed a moderately low level of infection due to required masking,” Randolph continued
Confusion over what the state’s law means for Shelby County has been high since Gov. Bill Lee signed sweeping COVID-19 legislation last Friday after it was passed by the General Assembly.
In addition to the mask mandate ban, the new law strips power from local health agencies, public schools and some private businesses by banning them from requiring vaccinations from their employees. It also allows workers who quit a job because of a vaccine mandate to collect unemployment.
But in Shelby County, the county and a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the governor over the state banning mask mandates.
Friday afternoon, a federal judge decided those measures could remain in place to protect children from COVID-19.
WREG has reached out to local districts for comment.
Another hearing is scheduled for Friday morning where a judge is expected to decide if it’s lawful for Governor Lee to ban mask mandates for local school districts.