- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Governor of Tennessee
Metro Nashville Public Schools will continue to require masks during a pending lawsuit that seeks to block a new law prohibiting mask requirements in schools.
A federal judge appeared to temporarily halt enforcement and implementation of the new law banning public school mask mandates on Sunday.
U.S. Middle District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. ordered all parties in the federal lawsuit challenging the law to "maintain the status quo" of the day before Gov. Bill Lee signed the legislation into law. Lawyers representing students with disabilities filed the lawsuit Friday, alleging that the new law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The law is part of a sweeping legislative package restricting the authority of public schools, local health agencies, local governments and businesses regarding COVID-19 restrictions. State lawmakers approved the legislation in a special session on Oct. 30. Gov. Bill Lee signed an omnibus bill containing the school authority restrictions on Friday.
"For MNPS, that means masks will continue to be required until further notice from the court," Director of Schools Adrienne Battle said in a statement released Sunday.
Crenshaw didn't specify the jurisdiction for the order, which requires status quo to remain in place for all parties of the lawsuit until a hearing on Monday.
Parties include Lee, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, and the students who brought the suit, who attend public schools in Tennessee's west, middle and eastern federal districts.
"Our strong desire is to get to a point where masks are no longer necessary, and our classroom environment looks like it did back before the start of the pandemic," Battle said. "Unfortunately, there is still COVID transmission throughout our community, and we are still seeing dozens of cases a week of students testing positive for the virus."
Battle said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that K-12 schools adopt universal masking rules in buildings to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Though students ages 5 to 11 can now receive COVID-19 vaccines at the will of their parents, a person isn't considered fully vaccinated until five weeks after they receive their first dose, Battle wrote.
Laura Testino and Melissa Brown contributed.
Reach reporter Cassandra Stephenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville schools mask requirement remains as federal court weighs law