Students and teachers in Metro Nashville Public Schools’ summer program will no longer be required to wear masks in classrooms and outdoors, starting Monday.
The decision was made in part because of the declining number of COVID-19 cases in the city and small class sizes. According to MNPS, the average class size ratio this summer will be a 13:1 student-to-teacher ratio. Face coverings will be enforced only when social distancing is not possible, including on school buses, in hallways and in other common areas.
The new mask protocol was unanimously approved by the district’s school board on Tuesday evening.
Over 16,000 students and 2,000 staff members returned to school on Monday for the summer program, called Promising Scholars, which was made optional for all public schoolchildren concerned with possible learning loss during this past year. About two-thirds of the students are in elementary school, with the remainder split between middle and high school grades, according to MNPS officials.
Still, the mask protocol for the upcoming school year remains unclear. Dr. Adrienne Battle, the director of schools, said that the summer program will help make that decision.
“The Promising Scholars’ experience over the next four weeks gives us some experience and some data to help better inform our decisions as we move forward,” she said on Tuesday.
Families who do not feel comfortable with the new protocol are allowed to opt-out of the summer program at any point, Battle said.