Shelby County files emergency motion in school masking debate

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 6:45 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The battle over masks in schools continues between state lawmakers and Shelby County leaders.

The county now asking a federal judge for an emergency ruling.

By the end of the day today we may see the mask mandate in Shelby County Schools officially end.

Governor Bill Lee has said he would sign the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill by today.

But yesterday Shelby County filed an emergency motion for clarification on the issue.

This legal action is a response to the omnibus bill recently passed by the Tennessee legislature, which would ban mask mandates in Tennessee schools.

Supporters of masking in class say the bill directly opposes a federal judge’s preliminary injunction allowing schools in Shelby County to enforce masking.

The emergency motion filed yesterday reads “it is no longer clear what mechanisms of enforcement may be available to Shelby County” and seeks to clarify what obligations Shelby County has regarding the bill that will likely soon become law.

Health Department Director Dr. Michelle Taylor is urging parents to get their children vaccinated now that mask mandates in schools will likely end.

Overall there’s been improvement with the number of COVID-19 cases in Shelby County.

Infectious disease physician Dr. Manoj Jain says cases have been declining since mid-September but warns we shouldn’t get too comfortable.

“So, we are right at an equilibrium where the number of cases has plateaued. We’re not going up and we’re not going down. That equilibrium can very easily be disrupted,” Dr. Jain said.

Governor Lee appealed the preliminary injunction that blocked an earlier executive order allowing parents to opt their kids out of masks in schools.

That injunction was to be in place until a final decision.

It’s unclear when a federal judge will rule on yesterday’s emergency order, but Action News 5 will continue to provide updates as we receive more information.

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