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Nashville lawmaker hopes mask mandate helps maintain in-person learning for Metro schools

August 9, 2021 – WKRN by: Nickelle Smith & Gerald Harris – Some Nashville leaders are praising the decision by the Metro school board to require masks in schools and on school buses. State Representative John Ray Clemmons said he was there when the board made the decision, and he believed masks will allow students to enjoy all the benefits of in-person learning.

“Everyone is very, very concerned about this. They want to ensure that we maintain and are able to attend classes in person,” Clemmons said. “The best way to do that right now is to mandate facial coverings for all students, faculty, and all MNPS staff. There is no debate about in-person learning being the best for our children.”

The need for in-person learning was one of the reasons why Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton threatened to punish districts that closed or issued mask mandates. Sexton said dismal test scores from last year showed mandates don’t work for students.

“It was slightly amusing to hear those comments from the speaker. I don’t think any school board or LEA should be deterred from doing what they feel is in the best interest to protect the safety and well-being of their students and teachers,” said Clemmons. “The Speaker didn’t say he was going to call a special session because he doesn’t have the unilateral authority to do that. He said he would ask the governor to do that.”

He added that if Governor Lee asked for a special session over masks or school closures, it would be inconsistent since the governor always deferred to local municipalities to make the decisions they feel are best for their constituents.

Clemmons penned a letter along with several other Nashville-area lawmakers last week asking for a mask mandate for Metro schools.

“As a parent of 3 MNPS students myself, I obviously have a personal interest in protecting my own children’s health and safety, but this applies to every child across Nashville,” Clemmons explained. “By mandating masks we can protect the kids, ensure their safety and also that of the MNPS staff.”

The Metro school board will re-assess the masking policy once the Metro government lifts its mask mandate for government buildings.



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