Tennessee Governor Extends Executive Order Allowing Students To Opt Out Of Wearing Masks

Oct 1, 2021

Metro Nashville students are required to wear masks in the 2021-2022 school year and disregarded an order by Gov. Bill Lee that required parents to have a way to opt out their children.
Credit Metro Nashville Public Schools

Governor Bill Lee has announced he will extend his executive order that allows kids to not follow mask mandates. The move comes after federal judges have made the governor’s order ineffective in three counties, citing the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Federal judges in Shelby, Knox and Williamson Counties have so far signaled that the governor’s order allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates is unconstitutional. The order was set to expire next week, but the governor announced he will extend it 30 more days.

“I’ve been incredibly disappointed by the rulings from federal judges who’ve chosen to legislate from the bench,” Lee said Thursday. “I’ve been in full support of the attorney general as we defend the law in this state.”

The lawsuits are from families who have children with disabilities. They argue the opt-out provision puts their kids at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

That concern also prompted the U.S. Department of Education to launch an investigation last month.

At the same time, individual school districts have been evaluating whether to extend their mask mandates. Several have, including Williamson and Wilson counties.