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Federal Order Regarding Face Coverings For KCS (Update)

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Superintendent Bob Thomas sent the following message to families:

Dear KCS families,

I apologize for sending this email over fall break, but I wanted you to have the latest information as it relates to U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer’s ruling yesterday regarding the mask mandate.

This update gives the district the ability to authorize a mask exemption or accommodation for a student if there is documentation that demonstrates a medical need. Please note that the blanket exemption for autism and tracheotomy no longer exists. Additionally, an IEP or a 504 does not automatically exempt your child from the mask mandate. Students who were eligible last year based on a pre-existing IEP or 504 plan and an approved exemption will be exempt beginning on Monday, Oct. 18. If you believe your student has a diagnosis requiring a masking accommodation but is not identified as receiving services under an IEP or 504, please notify your child’s principal. Based on the Court’s order, these decisions will be approved by the district and not at the school level.

The order makes clear that the mask mandate is universal, and we should not be allowing students to come to school without masks: “The record evidence supports the need for — and the Court ordered — a universal mask mandate, and the Court fully expects its mask mandate to be exactly that: universal, to every possible extent, with ‘very few’ medical exemptions,” the court filing states.

This means that all students and staff who do not qualify for an exemption and visitors will be required to wear a mask while inside our facilities.

  • Non-masked students who can be immediately transported by a parent or guardian will need to return home.
  • Non-masked students who arrive at school by bus or who decide to take their mask off while at school will remain in an administrative designated area while a parent or guardian is called to pick them up.


Per the Knox County Law Department, the order requires universal masking and states that students who refuse are subject to truancy; as such, students who refuse to wear a mask will be counted absent and will not be provided access to assignments while at school. Students who are marked absent will follow the district’s make-up work guidelines as outlined in Attendance Policy J-120.

Thank you for your support and cooperation.


Bob Thomas
Knox County Schools