Schools in Shelby Co. report no issues with mask mandate compliance after holiday weekend

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:57 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After the long holiday weekend, students were back in the classroom Tuesday, wearing masks.

It was also their first time back since a federal judge temporarily blocked Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s executive order No. 84.

The governor’s order had been allowing parents to opt their kids out of wearing a mask at school. School districts didn’t report any problems with getting students to wear masks Tuesday.

Shelby County Schools (SCS) never complied with the governor’s order, keeping its mask requirement in place as its legal team reviewed it.

So for SCS, it was business as usual on Tuesday.

Lee’s executive order has led to two lawsuits.

A federal judge, who’s hearing both cases, issued a temporary restraining order on Friday, blocking Lee’s executive order in Shelby County.

That means all Shelby County students have to wear a mask as the county’s health directive calls for.

Collierville Schools, where hundreds of students were opted out by their parents prior to the judge’s ruling, reported a “smooth start” and “100 percent compliance” with the mandate on Tuesday.

Bartlett, Millington, and Lakeland Schools also reported smooth sailing.

University of Memphis law professor, Steve Mulroy, says the legal battle is just beginning.

“This is definitely a win for the plaintiffs, but it’s only a temporary win in an early round. But the real decision should come out in a few weeks,” said Mulroy.

Shelby County government, who’s also suing the governor, has asked the court for a preliminary injunction.

If granted, it could block the governor’s order from being enforced in Shelby County for weeks or months.

In a court filing on Friday, county attorneys argued the governor’s executive order “is not just illogical; it shocks the conscience,” adding that “Governor Lee is undermining evidence-backed mitigation efforts.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education continues its investigation into the governor’s executive order.

According to a department timeline, investigators will reach out to the state for data and other information by the early part of this week.

The governor’s office is not commenting on the pending litigation. A hearing is set for Thursday in one of the lawsuits.

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