FSSD approves requirement for temporary mask

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Franklin Special School District approved a temporary mask warrant effective August 23. The full statement from the FSSD is below:

The Franklin Special School District Board of Education met in a special session on August 20 to analyze district data on COVID-related isolations and school exposure exclusions. Based on school data showing an increase in COVID-related exposures and absences, data from our county’s Department of Health, as well as the ability of Williamson Medical Center to accept and treat new patients, the Council has approved a temporary mask requirement for all students, staff and visitors to be worn indoors and on buses from Monday 23 August. The mask requirement will expire on Tuesday, September 21, unless the board votes to extend it.

In addition to recommendations from many respected national and local health agencies and organizations that strongly recommended universal masking, the school board’s decision was based on several important factors:

  • The number of new cases of COVID among students and staff at the FSSD nearly quadrupled from week 1 to week 2.
  • Children 11 and under are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and a significant number of students 12 and older are not vaccinated.
  • The Tennessee Department of Health case count data for Williamson County has dropped to “moderate level” based on the percentage of the population with active COVID cases.
  • According to the CDC data tracker, Williamson County has been in the high range for community transmission since July 22.
  • The Delta variant spreads more easily than the previous variants and can be spread by vaccinated individuals. As the school year progressed, the number of young people contracting the virus increased.
  • Based on contact tracing guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Health, if an unmasked student tests positive, nearby students should self-quarantine, even if they were wearing masks. However, if both the positive case and the contacts are masked, the contacts can remain in school.
  • Keeping students and staff in schools is crucial. Over the summer, the State Board of Education rejected the FSSD’s request to provide virtual learning in schools. Also, even if only one school has to close for a day, the whole neighborhood loses a day reserved for bad weather. The FSSD has seven bad weather days to use in the 2021-22 school year.

Executive Order of Tennessee Bill Lee, Executive Order 84, allows parents or guardians to opt out of school district mask warrants for their child by completing a opt out form. The by-law does not provide exemptions for district employees, visitors or volunteers. Families who have already filed for mask exemptions for this year do not need to complete the withdrawal form. Unless your child has a mask-related health issue, we respectfully ask parents to seriously consider allowing your child to wear a mask to see if we can limit the number of positive cases and exclusions based on exposure in our schools.

The FSSD will continue to focus on mitigation efforts, including frequent hand washing, social distancing as much as possible, ventilation of classrooms, and routine disinfection of commonly used areas. The district will continue to closely monitor school and community data and provide regular updates to the board as it considers extensions and / or revocations of the mask requirement. Data sets will be viewed as a whole with no individual “triggers” in any specific metrics.

We know that the FSSD community has always united in the face of challenges. Thank you to all of our FSSD families who have provided support to our teachers, staff and school administrators as we have spent the past two weeks collecting and analyzing school specific data in order to make this difficult decision. . Each of your voices has been heard and we appreciate the respectful tone that has allowed our students and teachers to have a good start to this school year. Let’s continue to lead the way with a positive and fun educational environment where learning can take place in a safe and compassionate environment.

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