NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An order by the Tennessee governor letting parents opt their children out of following mask rules at school has drawn defiance from officials in Memphis and Nashville.
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk offered an assurance Tuesday to a school board member that he won’t prosecute teachers and school officials for not acknowledging the mask carveout. Nashville school board member Emily Masters noted that state law includes a Class A misdemeanor for violating orders under emergency declarations.
That email from Funk was obtained by CBS affiliate WTVF on Tuesday.
Officials with Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools in the Memphis area plan to keep enforcing school mask requirements for students and others without opt-outs.
MNPS released a statement to families this week saying, “To protect the health nd safety of our students and staff, Metro Schools will continue to require the use of masks.”
“The Governor’s executive order was released without prior notice to school districts for review or comment,” added Director of MNPS Dr. Adrienne Battle. “As such, Metro Schools will continue to require face masks, pursuant to the rules adopted by the Board, as we further review this order and explore all options available to the district to best protect the health of our students, teachers, and staff.”
Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed his executive order Monday.
On Tuesday, Collierville Schools told WREG nearly 1,000 students have opted out of wearing masks out of nearly 8,700. In Lakeland and Arlington roughly 11 percent of students have opted out, but in Bartlett only about 2 percent of students are no longer wearing masks.
Meanwhile, students in Shelby County Schools, the largest district in the area, are still under a mask mandate according to district administration.