Masks “strongly recommended” indoors for Knoxville’s Emerald Academy

School leaders said they are “strongly recommending” masks for all students and staff inside regardless of vaccination status.
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - High fives, cheering, and inspirational signs brought smiles to the students faces on the first day of school.

The staff rolled out the green carpet at Emerald Academy, a charter school in Knox County.

“I’m excited to go to my class and meet my teacher,” said Peyton Ford, a first grade student.

Dozens of students wore masks, something school leaders said they are “strongly recommending” for all students and staff inside the school regardless of vaccination status.

“We’re really trying to understand exactly what, what the environment is telling us what we’re hearing from our own health department as well as the CDC and trying to understand what’s the best way for us to ensure the safety of our scholars and our students,” said Cedric Jackson, Family Engagement Director.

The school nurse is also encouraging parents and staff to mask up.

“Whether you’ve had the COVID vaccine or not I think that it would be beneficial. It is up to parents right now, so we’re hoping that we’re going to have a healthy new year,” said Ashley Brown, school nurse.

There are 72 schools in the district that have a full-time nurse. There are seven nurses that are shared between the other 16 schools that don’t have a full-time nurse.

Parents have the option to do what they want for their students.

Ultimately, staff were grateful students are back in the classroom.

Jackson said, “We want to be able to try to bring something that’s going to be a little bit more comfortable, more welcoming. So that they can understand that this is going to be a great time for them to engage in a learning environment that has a bunch of other kids around them.”

More than 400 students attend Emerald Academy.

There is still enrollment availability if you are interested in having your child attend.

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