By Katelynn White

NASHVILLE, TN — Metro Nashville Public School Board on August 4 voted to reinstate the mask mandate during a morning conference. 

The school board voted 8-1 to reinstate the mask mandate. The mandate went into effect on Friday, August 6. 

Fran Bush, MNPS’s board member was the only member to vote against the mask mandate. Bush disapproved of the outcome and believed the decision for students to wear masks should be placed on the parents.

Bush said, “Having some sense of normalcy. That was the goal to have these kids have some normalcy to go back into the classroom. Right now, we don’t have any data to support this uptick, right now, I’m saying right now. We don’t have a city-wide mandate right now for masks. We don’t have a statewide mask mandate. I don’t understand why we continue to pounce on our metro school students,”

A day before MNPS made their decision, Mayor Cooper reinstated the mask mandate for Metro government buildings. Cooper released a statement as the Tennessee health department reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising again. 

“The delta variant has led to the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19 cases, with the number of active cases now standing at 2,718, compared to 444 one month ago,” the statement read. “The percentage of positive tests is currently higher than 11 percent, compared to less than 2 percent in June. Meanwhile, 53.6 percent of Davidson County’s population has received at least one shot of the vaccine, compared to 57.9 percent nationally and 44.8 percent in Tennessee. Metro’s masking policy will be re-evaluated on an ongoing basis as disease rates decline and vaccination levels improve.”

MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle showed her support for Mayor Cooper’s decision by releasing a statement on the MNPS website that said, “As a result of the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and spread of the delta variant, the recommendations from the CDC and AAP, along with the Mayor’s new mask mandate for Metro facilities, it would be my recommendation to the Board that we adopt a universal mask policy, indoors and on buses, for the start of the 2021-22 school year in order to keep our students, staff, and their families as safe as possible.”

Battle said she wished more people would have received the vaccine to help minimize the number of people getting infected. “I wish that more Americans had taken advantage of the life-saving vaccine that has been available to them so that the pandemic would be less of a factor in the lives of our students and a universal mask mandate would not be necessary.

“ I’m hopeful that more community members will get the vaccine so that we can mitigate the spread of the virus and return to a normal school setting. Metro Schools will continue to do our part to promote vaccination events for our students who are eligible, their families, and our staff, along with the other mitigation protocols that can reduce transmission of the virus.”

MNPS opens its doors to students on August 1o for their first day of school.  The mask mandate will remain in place until further notice.