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Oak Ridge School Board votes to mandate masks indoors, allowing parents to opt kids out

Parents will still be able to opt their children out of the mandate per Governor Bill Lee's executive order.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday voted to mandate masks for students and staff indoors at all Oak Ridge schools as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

Parents will still be able to opt their children out of the mandate per Governor Bill Lee's executive order. Parents will need to contact school administration and fill out the appropriate forms to do so.

"The lives of students and staff come first, above comfort and even learning if that's the case as it may be. Let's make sure that they can live through the year, and we can adjust to anything else," board member Ben Stephens said. "This virus doesn't care whether you had it or not. It will catch a ride on anyone."

The news comes a few days after four Anderson County schools -- Lake City Middle School, Norwood Middle School, Briceville Elementary School and Grand Oak Elementary Schools -- chose to implement similar mandates.