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Here are the latest mask policies for schools in Shelby County

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 4:57 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked Tennessee’s new state law banning mask mandates in schools.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. has added to the confusion over who has the authority -- at least for now -- to mandate masks in schools.

On Friday, Gov. Bill Lee signed the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill passed in the special session. Among other pandemic-related legislation, it prohibits mask mandates in schools unless cases spike dramatically.

Crenshaw’s decision Sunday orders all parties to maintain the status quo as of Nov. 11 -- the day before Lee signed the bill -- meaning any existing mandates should remain in place for now.

It’s the second judge’s order in recent days to allow Shelby County’s school mask mandate to stand after a federal judge in Memphis Friday said despite the new state law the county has an obligation to enforce its health directive, which includes a school mask mandate.

Still, several suburban school districts in Shelby County are making masks optional as of Monday. In similar statements, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown and Millington all said their attorneys would review the judge’s decision but would proceed with optional masks for the time being.

Bartlett City Schools, masks optional -- “We are aware of this afternoon’s ruling by U.S. Middle District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. concerning new legislation that was passed into law regarding masking in schools. Due to the late notice and our desire to be sure we are in compliance with the appropriate legal or legislative requirements at any given time, our legal counsel will review the new order as well as the outcome of a scheduled hearing that will take place Monday afternoon. After a thorough evaluation of the implications of this and any subsequent developments, Bartlett City Schools will issue updated guidance to our parents and students as necessary. For the time being, we will proceed with our previous announcement that masks will not be required for students, staff, and visitors on Monday, November 15th.Thank you for your continued support and understanding.”

Collierville Schools, masks optional -- “We are aware of this afternoon’s ruling by U.S. Middle Tennessee District Court judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. concerning new legislation that was signed into law regarding masking in schools. Due to the late notice and our desire to be sure we are in compliance with the appropriate legal or legislative requirements at any given time, our legal counsel will review the new order as well as the outcome of a scheduled hearing that will take place Monday afternoon. After a thorough evaluation of the implications of this and any subsequent developments, our school system will issue updated guidance to our parents and students as necessary. For the time being, we will proceed with our previous announcement that masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors on Monday, November 15th. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.”

Germantown Municipal School District, masks optional -- “We are aware of this afternoon’s ruling by U.S. Middle District Court judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. concerning new legislation that was passed into law regarding masking in schools. Due to the late notice and our desire to be sure we are in compliance with the appropriate legal or legislative requirements at any given time, our legal counsel will review the new order as well as the outcome of a scheduled hearing that will take place Monday afternoon. After a thorough evaluation of the implications of this and any subsequent developments, our school system will issue updated guidance to our parents and students as necessary. For the time being, we will proceed with our previous announcement that masks will be highly recommended for students, staff, and visitors on Monday, November 15th. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.”

Millington Municipal Schools, masks optional -- “MMSD Family, On Friday 11/12/21, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill which prohibits governmental entities, including public school districts, from requiring masks. As to comply with the new legislation the Millington Municipal Schools, effective immediately 11/13/21 and until further notice, mask are optional for students, employees and visitors. Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the ever changing guidance, processes and procedures that have impacted our community due to COVID-19.”

Statements from Arlington Community Schools and Lakeland School System were not available on their official websites or social media pages.

Shelby County Schools, Tennessee’s largest school district, has yet to release a statement on the matter.

Judge Crenshaw has a conference scheduled Monday.

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