After initially “strongly recommending” masks, students and staff members will now be required to wear face coverings in Oak Ridge Schools when physical distancing is not possible, Superintendent Bruce Borchers said Thursday.
A school re-opening plan published Monday said masks would be strongly recommended, but not required, when students can’t stay six feet apart to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Some parents objected, with myingy said the mask recommendation did not go far enough. Some indicated that they would contact school administrators to ask for mandatory face masks, according to Oak Ridge Today.
On Thursday, Borchers said the change to mandatory masks was made after a review of the “current situation.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in Anderson County, which includes Oak Ridge, has increased significantly this month, even as the sas of Thursday, and the number of active cases has more than doubled in eight days.
On Thursday, Borchers said students and staff members who have a medical reason for not wearing a face covering should contact their schools’ principal. Those issues will be considered on a case-by-case basis, Borchers said.
The school system said a majority of those who responded to a recent survey wanted to return to normal as much as possible with students participating in face-to-face instruction. Respondents also want common areas disinfected, social distancing practiced, temperature checks provided, and non-essential visits reduced.
The survey was conducted before the recent surge in cases in Anderson County. It’s not clear if the acceleration in the growth of new cases in the county might have affected the survey results.
Oak Ridge Schools is currently offering two options for students for the July 29 re-opening, one, the resumption of in-person learning, with contingency plans for remote learning in case of health emergencies, and a full year of virtual online learning.