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Knox Co. Schools to discuss COVID-19 policies & requiring birth certificates for bathroom accommodations

Educators are expected to discuss mask requirements, social distancing and bathroom accommodations for transgender students during a work session.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County Board of Education is expected to meet for a work session on Wednesday. They are expected to discuss policy proposals related to the COVID-19 pandemic and bathroom accommodations for transgender students.

Board members will discuss the board's authority, as well as the superintendent's authority, to implement COVID-19 restrictions in the KCS Connect Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. The plan did not include mask requirements or temperature checks as of Wednesday.

Federal and local health leaders have recommended teachers, students and faculty wear masks inside of schools regardless of their vaccination status. However, there is no current mask mandate in effect.

According to the current plan, KCS Health Services Department will work with the Knox County Health Department on contact tracing. Entering quarantine will not be required for fully-vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19.

The plan also says that KCS officials will not be able to move schools to online learning if a surge of cases are reported unless Governor Bill Lee declares a state of emergency giving them the authority to do so.

In the agenda, officials said they could take possible action about COVID-19 restrictions in the upcoming school year.

Board members will also discuss a proposal that would require students to provide an original birth certificate if they need bathroom accommodations, which would be used to determine their sex at the time of birth.

The proposal also specifies that schools would not be required to allow students to use a bathroom or changing facility designated for people of the opposite sex than what is listed on their birth certificate. It also specifies that schools would not be expected to make structural changes to provide accommodations.

The proposal could effectively allow schools to deny requests from transgender students to use bathrooms and changing facilities aligning with their gender identity.

Knox County Schools' regular session is scheduled for Aug. 11, when they are expected to vote on the proposals.

Watch the meeting live here: