The Administration of Gov. Bill Lee has come under fire in recent days as the COVID-19 crisis is cancelling schools in some districts.
The latest bad news for Lee comes from an announcement today that the U.S. Department of Education is launching an investigation into state policies in five states (including Tennessee) that have sought to ban local mask mandates in schools.
Here’s more from U.S. News:
The Biden administration opened investigations into five states over whether their bans on mask mandates discriminate against students with disabilities – a move that marks the most aggressive action by the Education Department to date in its efforts to support local school leaders trying to return students to school safely amid a surging pandemic.
“The Department has heard from parents from across the country – particularly parents of students with disabilities and with underlying medical conditions – about how state bans on universal indoor masking are putting their children at risk and preventing them from accessing in-person learning equally,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Monday in a statement. “It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve.”
Meanwhile, families of medically vulnerable children in the Shelby County School district are suing the Lee Administration claiming the opt-out policy regarding masks puts their children at risk. WREG has more:
The lawsuit alleges Lee’s order forces parents with vulnerable children to decide between an education or their health and safety. It’s a position that Timmons believes is not right.
“When a parent of a kid that has COVID says ‘My kid doesn’t have to wear a mask,’ they’re not making a decision on their child health. They’re making a decision about other people children’s health and that affects children with disabilities,” Timmons said.
Research from John Hopkins University shows that Tennessee ranks sixth in the country in new cases per capita and that one-third of COVID cases in state are children.
This week, Shelby County also filed a suit against the governor.
And, Phil Williams of NewsChannel5 is reporting that last week was the worst of the pandemic in terms of new infections for school-aged children:
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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