Officials with Franklin Special School District announced July 22 that students and staff will not be required to wear masks for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

While the district will continue implementing social distancing and sanitizing protocols, masks will be optional.

The announcement is similar to Williamson County Schools, which has also announced masks will be optional at the start of the school year.

However, students and staff are still encouraged to self-screen, which includes monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, shortness of breath and body aches. Those who are sick are encouraged to seek out a health care provider and to stay home until they are better.

The district will also continue to work with the Williamson County Health Department to track positive cases and determine if close contacts should quarantine.

District officials said staff will continue to monitor case levels in the community and will revisit protocols if needed.

"Should our school [and] community experience a significant rise in COVID-related illness, we may need to revisit these protocols, but, at this point, we are confident we can begin the school year safely with some restrictions removed," FSSD Director of School David Snowden said in a letter to parents.