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Maskless Williamson County students without approved exemption separated from classmates

Classroom file image (FOX 17 News)
Classroom file image (FOX 17 News)
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Williamson County Schools (WCS) students who don't wear masks or don't have an approved religious or medical exemption have been moved to separate rooms, Superintendent Jason Golden says.

Golden confirmed in an October board meeting that students in this category are being kept separate from their classmates and being supervised by in-school suspensions teachers.

Right now, all students, visitors and staff are required to wear masks at WCS. Students aren't allowed to opt-out of the mask mandate, per a federal order.

Those students who don't have an approved exemption and don't wear a mask are being kept in separate rooms as Golden says WCS "has to follow the court order."

ALSO SEE: No. of WCS students opting out of mask mandate shrinks, district points to federal ruling

"We had a few thousand religious exemptions, but [families] who have taken the stance of, in essence, 'I disagree with that federal order,' have been fairly small numbers," Golden said.

Golden said there are less than 10 students in this situation.

Still, board members questioned: Is there nothing we can do better in this situation?

"Making sure that we give as good of quality instruction that we possibly can is a constant effort," Golden said. "We do have in-school suspension teachers who do that daily work...the quality of it is not the same as physically being in a classroom."

As Golden is speaking, a parent from the audience interrupts his comments, sparking a request for deputies to escort her out of the meeting.

“No I’ll leave happily,” parent Kristin McKinney yelled out. “No one is teaching my kids. No one’s in there talking to them, they’re being told to be quiet.”

Golden continued to say, "We don’t have the capacity for someone who elects not to be there to give them the same quality instruction – we just don’t."

“There are at least 400 kids in their school right now who walk around the school without mask all day long, because their parents signed a piece of paper against an unlawful mandate,” McKinney told the school board during public comment before she was asked to leave. “And yes I’m angry because these are the most precious things in my life [referring to her children] and what you are doing to them is evil and wrong."

ALSO SEE: Tennessee school district at center of mask debate takes steps to vet, limit speakers

Students who are separated at school do have access to virtual learning and complete the work they would usually do in their classroom.

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