Overton County students will not be required to wear masks.
The Overton County Board of Education voted 9-0 against the mandate Thursday night. Director of Schools Mark Winningham said the decision to wear a mask in school should be a personal decision.
“Personally, I think it is the appropriate decision,” Winningham said. “I think that we should leave that up to the parents as to weather if they want to have their children wear a mask or not. Mine do, but I know there are many people who do not believe in wearing a mask, and I am going to support that.”
The board met Thursday night for a special called meeting to consider approving a mandate. During the meeting, School Board Member Diane Sadler said if she was a parent, she would make her child wear a mask, but the school should not force every student.
“The healthcare professionals say we should, children should be wearing a mask,” Sadler said. “However, we all know should is not a shalt. The Tennessee Department of health recommends children should be wearing a mask. Is that a shall? No.”
Board Member Mike Hayes acknowledged the increase of COVID cases in the county are due to schools opening. But, said he does not support a mandate.
“We can (Mandate),” Hayes said. “But, I personally do not see a mandate for the mask. Obviously, we can not control every aspect of what a child does after school.”
Board Member Ricky Dodson said he would like to see schools to be more cautious in the hallways to help control the virus.
“I would just like to see them wear it (Masks) in the hall more,” Dodson said. “When they get outside and get six feet apart, they can take their mask off. When they get in their classrooms and their car, take the mask off. But, I do not want them wearing it all day long. I think we need to be more careful of what we are doing,”
Masks are still encouraged to be worn in all school buildings.