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Changes to Covid Policies in TN Schools

Big 3 items for school related Covid policy in the bill that just passed the Tennessee Legislature on 10.30.21. Summarized from the Tennessee Legislature’s Conference Committee Report on House Bill No. 9077 / Senate Bill No. 9014.

  1. Quarantining in schools: The language is clear that only the State Health Commissioner has the “sole authority” to quarantine, and the committee summary of the bill passed says: “A local health entity or official, mayor, governmental entity, or school does not have the authority to quarantine a person or private business for purposes of COVID-19.”
  1. Vaccine and vaccine status requirements: Schools shall not mandate that a person receive a COVID-19 vaccine or require proof of vaccination as a condition to access the premises or services.
  2. No mask requirements in schools, unless meeting many conditions:
    A school shall not require a person to wear a face covering while on school property unless: 
    (1) The principal or president of the school submits a written request to the school’s governing body for the adoption of a policy requiring all persons on school property to wear a face covering; 
    (2) Severe conditions exist (defined as greater than 10% positivity rate)
    (3) The school’s governing body adopts such a policy on a school-by-school or campus-by-campus basis and only:
    (4) The school provides face coverings for persons twelve (12) years of age and older that meet the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health N95 classification of air filtration, meaning that the face covering filters at least ninety-five percent (95%) of airborne particles, including droplets containing COVID-19; and 
    (5) The school provides age-appropriate face coverings for persons under twelve (12) years of age, but over five (5) years of age, that provide air filtration similar to the face coverings described in subdivision (a)(4).

Also worth noting on masks in schools:
– If a mask requirement passes, mask exemptions are protected for ADA, health, and religious reasons.
– No mask requirement can exceed 14 days
– “The governing body of a school shall not use state funds to mandate or require students to wear face coverings in violation of this section. If a school’s governing body violates this subsection (e), then the commissioner of education may withhold future distributions of school funds from a local education agency in the amount of the state funds used in violation of this section, or the attorney general and reporter may initiate legal proceedings to recover all state funds used in violation of this subsection (e).”