As the Delta variant kicks off a new coronavirus wave, especially in areas with overwhelming vaccination rates, Tennessee on Monday became the latest state where a governor has undermined efforts by local school districts to require students to wear masks as the new school year approaches sig.
Gov. Bill Lee, Republicans, signed an executive order Monday essentially clears up any school district’s efforts to require students to wear masks.
According to the order, a student’s parent or guardian has the “right to opt out of any order or requirement” on which the student “wears face clothing” at school, in school buses or at school functions.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Tennessee has been steadily rising since July, according to a New York Times database. As of Sunday, Tennessee recorded the highest weekly average of coronavirus cases since late January.
Mr. Lee’s announcement comes days after video surfaced last week in which protesters against mask threatened doctors who expressed support for demanding face clothing during a local school board meeting in Williamson County.
Tennessee is one of several battlefields with a Republican governor opposed to mask mandates and local school staff wanting them.
About two weeks ago, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and an ardent opponent of public health mandates, signed a decree requiring state officials to ensure parents have the final say on whether or not their children wear masks to school this fall.
On Sunday, the chairman of the Broward County School Board said the district had no choice but to defy Mr. DeSantis’ ban.
“We are living out of the nightmare of the Covid pandemic, in which so many people in our county, including our staff and others, are affected,” Rosalind Osgood, president of the CBS program “Face the Nation.” we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff. “
Last week, Mr. DeSantis and Governor Greg Abbott of Texas are both local school districts from requiring masks or other measures to protect students from coronavirus in the coming school year.
But several school districts have taken their case to court.
The Texas State Supreme Court ruled Sunday that the state governor could ban mask mandates, at least temporarily. However, some districts promised to maintain the requirements. On Monday, a judge in Bexar County ruled in favor of county officials and the city of San Antonio, which had already introduced a mask requirement in schools as well as at county and city facilities, according to a reporter at 6 p.m. KENS5 and a spokesman for the county.
The escalating struggles come when schools around the country open or prepare to do so, where tens of thousands of children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination. Hospitalizations of adolescents have been increasing as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus has spread.
Last week, more than half of the nation’s largest 100 school districts require all students to wear masks, according to data collected by the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.
Some Republicans have condemned mask rules as a violation of parental rights, while many Democrats believe they are a matter of public health.