Knox County mayor addresses medical exemption filing in school mask mandate

Mayor Glenn Jacobs calls the lack of response “unacceptable.”
Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Mayor Glenn Jacobs greeted students at...
Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Mayor Glenn Jacobs greeted students at Dogwood Elementary.(WVLT)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:39 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs took to Twitter Thursday to address legal filings in the ongoing struggle between Knox County Schools and a federal judge that imposed a temporary masking mandate on the school system. Mayor Jacobs showed frustration in a lack of communication in the case.

The original order was the result of a suit from multiple Knox County Families who claimed their children, who are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, needed the mandate in order to attend school.

Since then, Knox County legal experts have submitted multiple filings proposing medical exemptions for the order. According to Mayor Jacobs, Knox County has not heard back on the filings.

“The Law Dept filed a proposed list of medical exemptions for the federal order mandating masks in [Knox County Schools] NINE DAYS AGO. We have heard NOTHING! For some children, that means 9 days of segregation, isolation, and denial of educational and therapeutic services. #unacceptable,” Mayor Jacobs said.

The families and lawyers that originally sued for the mandate, who are the plaintiffs in the case, did respond to the filings on Oct. 4. According to legal documents obtained by WVLT News, the plaintiffs did not agree with some of the proposed exemptions. Others, however, they did agree with.

The mandate itself has sparked some controversy in Knox County, with some parents and students supporting it and others opposing it. Sara Holladay, a Knox County Schools parent, was pleased to hear about the mandate.

“Absolutely pleased that this is going to be a change that all of our students and teachers and staff can look forward to,” said Holladay.

On the other hand, parents and students against the mandate spoke extensively at Wednesday’s Knox County Board of Education meeting. One student told the Board that he planned to leave school over the mandate.

“Friday will be my last day as a KCS student,” said Logan Taylor, a student who spoke during public forum.

As of Oct. 7, Judge J. Ronnie Greer, the judge who ordered the mandate, has not addressed the filings. WVLT News reached out to Knox County Law Director David Buuck for further clarification on the next steps in the case. According to Buuck, Judge Greer has no obligation to respond to the filings.

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