Students in Shelby County suburbs opting out of mask mandate

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn.– Some students across Shelby County are no longer masking up in the classroom after an executive order issued by Governor Bill Lee says parents can have their children opt out of mask mandates in schools. 

Of the roughly 8,700 students in Collierville, nearly 1,000 are opting out. But the majority of parents, like Ashley Cooper, are still masking their kids.

“All of my children are under the age of 12,” Cooper said. “They cannot be vaccinated. We cannot do virtual. We can’t do home schooling because we’re both working parents.”

Seventy-two Collierville students have tested positive for COVID-19 since school began on August 9, and 241 are currently quarantining. 

Shelby County Schools is challenging the governor’s order and still requiring masks but other area school districts are seeing opt-out numbers similar to Collierville.

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.

Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease expert, said he believes it’s crucial as many students mask up as possible.

“This is not about choice. This is really about responsibility,” Dr. Jain said. “We got to take every precaution. If we don’t we’re going to see multiple outbreaks, school after school closing.”

Meanwhile, students in Shelby County Schools, the largest district in the area, are still under a mask mandate according to district administration.

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