At Monday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Williamson County Board of Education, there was no applause, no shouting from the gallery and no pounding of the gavel.
And, as a result of an executive order issued earlier in the day by Gov. Bill Lee, there essentially was no more mask mandate for Williamson County Schools or any other school district in Tennessee. Lee’s order left the decision of whether students wear a mask to school up to parents, who can opt their children out of any school mask requirements.
“I want to let you know and the community know that masks are now optional at WCS schools,” Superintendent Jason Golden said to board members during his report.
In light of Lee's executive order, WCS has updated its health and wellness guidelines that can be found on the district's website.
Monday night’s meeting was in sharp contrast to the special-called school board session just six days earlier, when a boisterous and unruly crowd watched as board members voted 7-3 to mandate the wearing of masks in all elementary schools in the WCS district as a measure of protection against the coronavirus. That went into effect last Thursday, and the district had already seen more than 3,600 religious or medical exemptions.
All parents have to do now is complete a short form on the WCS website that will opt out their children from what is still referred to as a mask mandate, which will expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 21.
“We’re going to continue to encourage masks,” Golden said. … "We’re going to do what we can [to mitigate risks from the coronavirus]. Based on your vote last week, that exemption has shifted to a pure opt-out.”
Unlike the meeting on Aug. 10, when an audience filled up the 222-capacity auditorium of the Williamson County Administrative Complex and delivered catcalls and loud applause, Monday’s gathering was calm and orderly. Only 12 speakers participated in the public input portion of the meeting, compared to 30 last week.
Monday night’s meeting can be viewed on the district’s Facebook page.