The wearing of masks for COVID-19 precautions will now be optional for Wilson County Schools staff and students when the new school year begins next month after the WCS board unanimously approved the new policy at its monthly meeting on Monday night.

Masks were mandatory during the past school year. If masks are worn, they must conform to Wilson County Schools Dress Code guidelines.

Symptom checks will be conducted once per week using standard questions recommended by the Tennessee Department of Health. Temperature checks will be performed at the building entry daily only when Wilson County’s seven-day new case rate exceeds 25 new cases per 100,000 residents.

If a child is determined to be a “close contact,” the parent/guardian will receive written notification. The student will be required to quarantine and any confirmed close contacts will be reported to the Tennessee Department of Health.

WCS Health Services Director Chuck Whitlock said that those who have passed the 14-day waiting period after a final vaccination will not need to be quarantined, unless they are exhibiting COVID symptoms. All nurses are able to look up a vaccination record at the Tennessee Department of Health website, so it is not necessary for a student to bring their card to school.

If the student is asymptomatic after being vaccinated and being exposed to the virus, they will not have to be quarantined, Whitlock said. Also, those who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the previous 90 days do not need to be quarantined.

WCS will be able to provide classroom instruction for those students who have been quarantined, WCS attorney Lauren Bush said.

Schools will continue to disinfect high touch surfaces and objects (playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, toilets, drinking fountains) within the building and on school buses as much as possible.

When possible, students will be physically distanced by at least three feet in the classroom as recommended by CDC guidelines.

Also at the meeting, county residents who are against students wearing masks were present.

School construction

At the board workshop which took place before the meeting, Jason Morris of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects of Mt. Juliet spoke about the documents for Stoner Creek Elementary School that will be ready to send out to bid on Friday. Bids will be open on Aug. 5, new Director of Schools Jeff Luttrell said.

Morris reviewed the portion that will be paid for by the system and them reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The bid will be sent to FEMA after the winning bid is chosen. FEMA is reimbursing the system for a portion of the building due to the school being destroyed in the March 3, 2020 tornado.

Director’s report

Luttrell said that all meals will be available to all students for the 2021-22 school year. The program has been extended by the federal government he told the board.

He reported that 938 families have moved to the WCS district. As of July 9, there were 19,062 students in WCS. That number is up 537students from last year. Student population numbers can change throughout the year, but Luttrell said that students have enrolled as late as Labor Day.

Registration will be accepted through the Skyward Family Access page. A link for instructions is located within the announcement of registration on the WCS website.

He also told the board he has chosen to not appoint a deputy director at this time.

Mickey Hall, who retired last December, was the deputy director under former WCS Director Donna Wright. Duties that were assigned to Hall have been reassigned to other WCS employees and a new organizational chart was presented to the board on Monday. There are already four deputy directors for various parts of the district, Luttrell said.