The Special Meeting Was Called To Discuss COVID-19 Procedures And Protocols For The 2021-2022 School Year. (Members Of The Public Were Not Allowed To Speak.) With Lebanon Special School District Already Having To Close Due To COVID Cases And Staffing Issues, Many In Attendance Were Waiting To Hear If The Same Fate Awaited Wilson County Schools.
Photo: Linda Armistead, Jeff Luttrell and Larry Tomlinson prepare for the special called meeting of the Wilson County School Board 08/24/2021
Photo Credit: Paula Gomes
Published August 27, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
It was a full house at the Wilson County School Board’s Special Called Meeting on August 24th. Some came with masks and signs that read “masks save lives” and “love thy neighbor by wearing a mask” but most came without either.
The Sheriff’s department’s presence was noticeable as members of the public took their places. While civility was requested at the beginning of the meeting by board member, Larry Tomlinson (Zone 5), one woman refused to move her sign from the chair next to her, preventing a young girl from sitting next to her father.
The special meeting was called to discuss COVID-19 Procedures and Protocols for the 2021-2022 School Year. (Members of the public were not allowed to speak.) With Lebanon Special School District already having to close due to COVID cases and staffing issues, many in attendance were waiting to hear if the same fate awaited Wilson County Schools.
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Director of Schools, Jeff Luttrell, gave some remarks along with his recommendations. He reiterated the inability to have schools go to a hybrid schedule or remote due to schools not being included in Governor Bill Lee’s most recent executive order. Luttrell stated that going to a hybrid schedule the previous school year was “one of the smartest things we did.”
Luttrell said “as of today” active COVID cases numbered 330 and 562 since school began. 1,878 were currently out due to contact tracing. Out of the 3,306 who have been out since the start of the school year, 134 had tested positive. 187 teachers were out (but not all due to COVID.) The average absentee number is around 100. Bus routes were also affected, with 38 down.
The recommendation of the Director of Schools is that if attendance drops below 85% face coverings will be requested. He said he was “pleading with the community” to have their students wear a mask. Some attendees were heard loudly protesting.
After Luttrell’s presentation, the board members commented before making a motion to accept the plan.
Carrie Pfeiffer (Zone 1) insisted that the Director of Schools mitigation plan “doesn’t go far enough” and that students needed to wear masks for the next five weeks.
Linda Armistead (Zone 4) mentioned parents’ concerns over the difficulty of getting their students tested to which Luttrell replied that the Tennessee Department of Health is now accepting home tests.
Kimberly McGee (Zone 6) said that “teachers want to teach, not police masks” and that the disrespect the board has received “must stop now.”
Jamie Farough (Zone 7) said that due to administrators having to staff classes “what we’re doing right now is not education.” She encouraged outside classes for those in elementary schools when possible “to bring the joy back” and also touched on disrespect that she has faced as a board member.
Jon White (Zone 3) had a message for the community. He said, “I see people, not attacking policy, [but] attacking people.” He continued, “In the last 12 months… I’ve been called a murderer, a child abuser, and someone had the audacity to bring my deceased daughter into the conversation.” He appealed to those in attendance, “We’re better than this, and what our future looks like after this… I worry.” He shared that resignations from school boards across the country are up 31%. He ended with an appeal to “find civility” adding that “if you think one side is more righteous than the other – you’re wrong.”
After additional comments from the board, and some confusion over Robert’s Rules of Order, a recess was taken, after which the motion to accept the Director of School’s mitigation plan was swiftly voted upon and passed 6 – 1. Current safety procedures and protocols can be found HERE.
About the Author:
Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and contributor to The Tennessee Conservative.
You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.