Williamson County Schools parents call for optional mask-wearing for 2021-22 school year as district lifts some restrictions

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden said students will likely be required to wear a mask through at least the end of the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden said students will likely be required to wear a mask through at least the end of the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden said students will likely be required to wear a mask through at least the end of the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Roughly one year after the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019-20 school year, some local parents are calling for a return to normal school practices.

WCS families were asked to register for either in-person or virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year by March 23, which prompted many parents to ask what the next school year will look like. While Williamson County lifted its mask mandate in late February, WCS and Franklin Special School District have opted to continue to require them.

Several parents spoke during the public comment portion of the WCS board of education meeting March 22, asking the district to make mask-wearing optional for staff and students for the 2021-22 school year.

“Based upon the declining cases and the availability of the vaccine, I think it is time that the school system exits this pandemic mentality,” WCS parent Rebekah Parker said.

Cases in Williamson County have been on the decline in recent weeks, down from more the 2,000 active cases at the start of the year to just under 500 as of March 22, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health. However, active cases have increased by 7% in the last week.

Parents also called for the district to remove quarantine requirements and contract tracing for students, which is conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.

The district has not yet announced what COVID-19 protocols will look like during the 2021-22 school year; however, Superintendent Jason Golden said WCS has been less restrictive than many other districts in other parts of the country.

“I’m really proud of what our staff has done and pushing those efforts to do what we could to keep students on campus,” Golden said. “It hasn’t been perfect; there have been some times where we haven’t been able to be on campus, but the effort has been there, and I think it’s been worth it so far.”

He also clarified that registration is only for the fall semester of the 2021-22 school year, and that parents can change their choice after the first semester.

Additionally, Golden said the district is also working to implement new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reduces social distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet. Golden said WCS’ COVID-19 response team is also working to lessen restrictions inside schools and around sports. The district also no longer requires temperature checks for students arriving for school.

However, Golden said the district will most likely be requiring mask usage through at least the end of the 2020-21 school year, per CDC guidance.

“I think it’s extremely important for us to re-emphasize as clearly as I can that we will continue to follow the CDC and state health department guidelines and listen to those health authorities as much as we can, and that includes this year plus next year,” Golden said. “I can’t predict the future—I can be optimistic—but what I can tell you is that my intent and my plan is to follow these health authorities’ guidelines as much as we can with a goal that we’ve had throughout the school year of keeping students on campus.”
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


Westhaven (Photos by Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Westhaven Town Center complete; incumbents re-elected to Brentwood City Commission and more top news from the Nashville area

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from Brentwood and Franklin in the Nashville area.

The city celebrated the grand opening of the new police headquarters on Heritage Way in April. (Photos courtesy city of Brentwood)
City of Brentwood debuts $29 million police headquarters

The $29 million project, which is funded through the city’s capital improvement program, features more than 56,000 square feet of space, a far cry from the department’s existing offices at Brentwood City Hall. The department is expected to move employees to the new space by June 1, according to the city.

Owners Robin and Shawn Davis opened the Franklin location of Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish on Murfreesboro Road in 2014. (Photos courtesy Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish)
Big Shake's Hot Chicken & Fish offers a hot take on fried chicken and fish

While heat levels range from the original, no-heat option to Death Row, owner Shawn Davis said he recommends first-time diners start with a lower heat level and work their way up.

Three incumbents retained their seats on the Brentwood City Commission. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
3 incumbents re-elected to Brentwood City Commission

Results from the May 4 Brentwood city elections are in.

Three spots on the Brentwood City Commission are up for grabs this year. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Incumbents take early lead in Brentwood City Commission election

See live coverage of the Brentwood City Commission election here.

Fire damage caused the Red Pony to temporarily shut down its Main Street location in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Red Pony reopens at temporary location while completing repairs from fire

The restaurant's location on Main Street has been closed since late January, when a fire caused damage to the building.

Work on the Southeast Municipal Complex is underway in Franklin. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Transportation updates: 3 road projects in Franklin, Brentwood to watch

Take a look at local road projects coming down the pipeline.

There are a number of eateries in Franklin and Brentwood to find breakfast dishes and pastries. (Courtesy Sugar Drop)
GUIDE: 18 places to get breakfast and brunch in Franklin, Brentwood

Which one of these brunch spots is on your list to try?

Buff City Soap opened in Franklin May 6. (Courtesy Buff City Soap)
Buff City Soap now open in Franklin

The shop sells handmade soap bars in a variety of scents.

Tori Cozert and her mother, Tammy Ringenberg, took ownership of AR Workshop Franklin last July. (Photos by Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mother-daughter team makes creative environment for crafting in at AR Workshop Franklin in Cool Springs

Projects at the workshop include wood items, such as painted boards, planters, pillows and lazy Susans, as well as soft items, such as pillows, canvas tote bags and knit blankets, a popular item in colder months.

The city of Brentwood's police and fire departments will host a blood drive May 5.  (Courtesy Sanford Myers and American Red Cross)
Brentwood to host Battle of the Badges blood drive May 5

The drive comes as the American Red Cross is reporting a critical need for blood donations.

Active cases in Williamson County have dropped by 33% in the last month. (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County active COVID-19 cases drop to lowest levels since September

Active cases have dropped by 1/3 in the last month, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Health.