HANCOCK COUNTY, Tenn. — Masks will be required in Hancock County Schools starting Wednesday, in response to rising COVID-19 cases in the area.
The director of schools, Charlotte Mullins, said students will need to wear masks inside of the building and on buses starting Wednesday. They are meant to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Mullins said schools must take measures to keep students safe.
In a statement to 10News, Mullins said "significant changes in local covid data prompted our system to consider additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our students."
"This measure was taken to protect the health of our students, teachers and staff, while continuing to provide high quality in-person instruction," Mullins added.
Officials said several students tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, the same day the school year started. They also said the number of COVID-19 cases is rising in the county.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control recommended nearly every East Tennessee county return to regularly wearing masks, as cases rose in the region. They also recommended people wear masks inside of schools regardless of vaccination status.
During a press conference, state education leaders said that they would call a special session against any school system that tries to mandate masks.
Hancock County officials did not immediately provide additional information, including details about when the policy could end. This story will be updated when more information is available.