A candidate for the school board responds to the removal of the Knox County Mask Mandate

KNOXVILLE, Tn. (WATE) – It’s a quiet week in Knox County schools, as students and staff are on spring break, but when everyone returns, school is going to be different. There are no more masks in the school for now.

One student, Judge Lance, is not a fan of wearing masks at school.

“My ears hurt and it’s hard to talk and hard to breathe,” Lance said. But Gershom’s middle school student believes his spring break has just improved a lot.

“I’m happy to be back knowing there will be no mask,” Lance said.

On Monday, Judge Ronnie Greer ruled in agreement with the joint request of school principals and prosecutors in Knox County in the original mask lawsuit to remove the mandate while mediating.

“I am in favor of removing the mandate because both sides agree, and right now we are under a green level from the CDC, which means it is safe for everyone to take off a mask most of the time, unless you are medically fragile,” Dominic Oakley said.

Oakley has children in Knox County schools and one of them will enroll in kindergarten next school year. She says the school year has been challenging and believes the school district needs to be better prepared.

“And we were ready when school started in the fall for all that. We’re not going to go through the whole fight in this critical court that tore our community to shreds. That’s the thing. It stopped being a matter of masks and started polarizing in politics,” Oakley said.

Oakley, a 7th District School Board nominee, says she supports child protection and wishes school leaders implemented a similar policy they had in the spring of 2021.

She said, “We decided last year that we were going to protect our students and give parents options and then we did not follow when we started school this year and therefore, the school board lost control of their schools to Judge Greer. And that was unfortunate.”

Oakley faces off against Sherry Garrett for District 7. Seat Garrett said in a statement, “We are pleased that the judge has agreed to remove the mask requirement at this stage. We hope the negotiations go smoothly and parents continue to choose their child’s health and education.”

Until the mediation results, the removal of the mask mandate will continue for the next 60 days. It will expire almost a week before school starts for the summer.

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