Students who refuse to wear a mask in school should be sent home, health dept. says

Students who refuse to wear a mask in school should be sent home, health dept. says
Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:44 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:45 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department says it will help schools enforce its universal masking order if districts are unable to do so on their own.

The health department issued a statement Monday saying its partnerships with schools predates the COVID-19 pandemic, seemingly in response to Collierville Schools’ instruction to district principals that they would require masks but not enforce the order if students refused. Instead, the district planned to take the names of students who refused to mask and turn them into the health department.

By Monday afternoon, however, a spokesperson for Collierville Schools said after a conference with the health department, “it was made clear that the district is obligated to require and enforce universal indoor masking of all students, employees, and visitors.”

“Additionally, it was confirmed that the Shelby County Health Department has the authority to close any school determined to be a danger to public health due to the presence of unmasked individuals,” reads a news release from Mario Hogue, Collierville Schools’ public information officer, therefore the district will enforce the order effective immediately.

In an amended health directive released last Friday, the health department announced it is now requiring masks in all K-12, pre-K and day care facilities for teachers, staff, students and visitors regardless of vaccination status. Prior to the order, the only district requiring masks was Shelby County Schools. Masks were optional at all six municipal school districts.

RELATED | Collierville parents protest masks in school

“If a student refuses to wear a mask and an exemption does not apply, the student should be sent home,” reads the health department’s statement Monday.

“That many children cannot be vaccinated and will be indoors during school sessions is one of the highest risks of transmission that Shelby County faces today. In order to keep our schools open, children learning, and our economy moving forward, the Health Department implores everyone in school environments to mask-up. The Department stands ready to assist any school or daycare facility in making their learning environment safe for children and the adults who work there.”

The latest health directive with universal masking in schools is set to expire Aug. 31 but it could be extended.

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