Roughly 1% of Knox County Schools students refused to wear masks Tuesday

More than 700 KCS students refused to wear masks inside schools on Tuesday.
Students can be counted present if they work at home during quarantine.
Students can be counted present if they work at home during quarantine.(WVLT)
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 9:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 4:32 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - More than 700 Knox County Schools students refused to wear a mask at school Tuesday, according to KCS officials. Officials with some Knox County schools told WVLT News that many more students showed up to school without a mask, but later decided to wear one.

Knox County Schools officials said of the 722 students who ultimately refused a mask, 207 were elementary school students, 235 were middle school students and 280 were high school students.

The Tennessee Department of Education reports on its website that 57,991 students are enrolled in Knox County Schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Based on that number, 1.25 percent of KCS’ student population refused to wear a mask on Tuesday.

Knox County Schools officials reported a 90.3 percent attendance rate for students and 93.8 percent attendance rate for staff on Tuesday.

Officials said that students who refused to wear a mask would be allowed in the school building, but would not be in their regular classroom.

A parent or guardian may take their child home for refusing to wear a mask, but the child’s absence will be counted as unexcused, officials said.

KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas said that he was thankful to those who made Tuesday a success.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our families, students and employees for making our return to school a success today,” said Thomas. “It took some additional planning and preparation to reinstate our face covering policy – as required by a federal order – but our school communities navigated this transition with considerable grace and patience.”

Superintendent Thomas said KCS would follow the same disciplinary measures that were in place last year for those who do not wear a mask.

  • 1st offense: Verbal warning
  • 2nd offense: Verbal warning
  • 3rd offense: Removed from the general population
  • 4th offense: Parent pick-up

The Knox Co. Law Director’s office filed a motion to amend the federal judge’s order that temporarily requires masks in Knox County Schools.

This comes following U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer ruled Friday that Knox County Schools must immediately require all staff and students to wear masks amid a legal battle.

Editor’s note: this story previously included incorrect information about the percent of unmasked students and absences. The information has since been corrected.

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