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“Emergency” Board Meeting Update

Tuesday, September 7, 2021 “Emergency” Board meeting update, short version: No new mask policy yet. Discussion continues Wed and Thurs, 5pm @ Rutherford County Board of Education.

Detailed description:

– Board listened to every speaker. For that reason, the meeting lasted for hours prior to any Board discussion, proposed policy, or votes.

– A motion was made to retain the current policy of no mask requirement. Motion did not pass. Lisa Moore, Tammy Sharpe, and Claire Maxwell supported this motion. Sheila Bratton, Tiffany Johnson, Coy Young, and Jim Estes opposed the motion.

– A potential new mask policy was introduced which would require masks in RCS with an exemption available to parents. The exact details were not clear, nor was the policy document made public.

– The Board discussed this policy from different perspectives, with extra time spent on a discussion of metrics being used to enact or retract the policy.

– The legal authority of such a proposal was also questioned, in addition to the necessity and administrative complications of making parents sign up to retain their choice. An RCS attorney said legality had not been settled in TN as a case had not yet been heard by the state Supreme Court.

– The Board adjourned with a general agreement to continue the discussion Wednesday and Thursday, and to involve parents from both sides of the debate in the ongoing discussion.

Rutherford Students First maintains the position that a district wide mask requirement without any parent choice is unacceptable. And we still believe that any path forward for RCS should be consistent with the legal authority provided to any Local Education Agency/School Board (LEA) in Tennessee.

We are open to any ideas which do not remove choice from parents and are consistent with Tennessee law. We hope the ongoing discussions will yield new solutions to properly plan for the future, not simply continue the cycle of reaction and frustration which is currently in place. Full stream of Board meeting here.