After closing for an entire week due to COVID-19, the Sumner County School Board is poised to vote on a resolution asking Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly to grant additional flexibility to school districts in dealing with the pandemic.

The move in Sumner County even as parents in districts across the state are suing Lee over his executive order allowing students/parents to opt-out of local mask mandates.

Sumner County does not have a mask mandate in effect in the district. However, they are asking for the ability to move to hybrid or remote learning options should COVID…


Lawsuits from parents in Williamson and Knox counties are challenging Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing opting out of a school district’s mask policy. The suits are similar to a suit from Shelby County parents. In the Shelby County suit, a judge today granted an injunction preventing Lee’s opt-out plan from going forward.

Meghan Mangrum has more on the Williamson County suit in the Tennessean:

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Nashville, names the governor, the Williamson County Board of Education and Franklin Special School District as defendants, alleging that the governor’s order “has failed to allow…


A federal judge Friday (9/17)blocked Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt-out of mask mandates in schools.

WTVC-NewsChannel9 has more:

U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman issued the preliminary injunction after parents of students with health conditions argued that the Republican governor’s executive order endangered their children and hurt their ability to attend in-person classes by allowing others to opt-out of a mask mandate

In the ruling, Lipman wrote that the ability to safely access schools was a guaranteed right and that the executive order impedes this right.

“Plaintiffs offered sufficient evidence at this stage to demonstrate that the…


Advocates Offer a Path Forward

One might think that since the financial crisis of 2008, the banking industry has improved practices to both help consumers and prevent another meltdown. Actually, I’m not entirely sure who might think that. Anyone paying attention to the behavior of groups like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase knows that the big banks are going with gusto — taking every opportunity to extract dollars from consumers while building the dominoes that may soon cause another catastrophe. And, why not? After all, the banks were bailed out, executives saw bonuses, and profits are soaring.

A recent blog…


Legislation sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) would establish a federal voucher program to allow low-income individuals to purchase connected laptops, tablets, or other devices.

The Device Access for Every American Act would authorize the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a program to administer up to $400 vouchers for low-income Americans to purchase laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.

“Laptops, tablets, and other connected devices are indispensable in our increasingly digital world. Many students’ homework assignments now require laptops, more employers are exploring telework models, and more doctors’ offices are migrating toward telehealth services as…


The number of teaching position vacancies in Shelby County has increased since the start of the school year, reports Chalkbeat:

The Memphis district started the school year with 217 unfilled teaching jobs on Aug. 9, and that number has grown to 227 as of Monday, the district’s human resources chief, Yolanda Martin, said. That represents a dramatic increase in vacancies from around this time last year, when the district had just 63 unfilled positions as of the first day of school.

The rise in openings follows a wave of teacher resignations. Since May, 367 district educators have resigned from their…


The Kentucky General Assembly met in special session recently and last week voted to overturn Gov. Andy Beshear’s mask mandate in the Commonwealth’s schools. While that means there will be no statewide mask mandate for schools as of September 17th, the move did not prevent local school boards from adopting new mask mandates or enforcing existing mandates.

The Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) notes that 56 of 171 school districts have indicated they will enforce local mandates once the state mandate expires.

NPR has more on the legislative action ending the statewide mask mandate in schools:

Kentucky lawmakers, many not…


Knox County Director of Schools Bob Thomas announced last week that he will be retiring at the end of this school year (June 2022).

The Knoxville News-Sentinel has more:

Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas will retire June 30, 2022, he announced to families Friday evening.

“In discussions with my family over the summer, I made the decision to retire on June 30, 2022,”

Thomas took the helm in April 2017 after a tumultuous time for the district. Before being named superintendent, he had worked as an assistant superintendent since 1990. Before that, he was a teacher at Bearden Junior…


Rutherford County became the latest middle Tennessee school district to institute a mask mandate last week, with the measure taking effect on Monday (Sept. 13th). WPLN has more:

Just days after Rutherford County Schools failed to vote on an updated pandemic policy, the school board has adopted a temporary mask mandate. The policy goes into effect on Monday.

More than 10,000 students were quarantined for at least one day last week, as the county continues to exceed its previous winter highs. The county had 4,305 active cases on Friday and reached its one-day peak on Monday with 658 new cases.


The Wilson County School Board met last night (9/2/21) and discussed COVID-19 mitigation strategies. As the Tennessean reports, the Board adopted a mask mandate that will go into effect on Friday (9/10/21). The move comes after a group of parents, doctors, and concerned citizens called on the Board to adopt a universal mask mandate.

Wilson County students returned to the classroom after a 10-day break during which time there was no online learning available, interrupting students’ education at the beginning of the year.

Right now, in Wilson County, at least 1 in 5 people tested are infected with COVID. Over…

Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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