The Cumberland County Board of Education revisited the issue of masks in schools only days after voting to mandate the use of masks by students and staff.

“We made a decision that everybody had to wear a mask, but we did not give any clarification,” Jim Inman, 1st District representative, said during the board’s regular meeting on Thursday. 

The board approved a motion requiring students, staff, teachers and visitors to wear facial coverings when social distancing cannot be maintained and “under situational discretion where appropriate.” 

The motion was made by Robert Safdie, 2nd District representative, and supported by Tony Brock, 5th District. 

Director of Schools Ina Maxwell will be charged with developing procedures for implementing the policy in collaboration with department heads and principals.

“They’re the ones who need to come up with how we’re going to make this work in the real world,” Brock said. 

“Trust our educators,” Maxwell said. “We have to trust that they can make those decisions appropriately … Our children face a lot of different trials and tribulations. That’s going to accommodate some situations. Give that educator that flexibility to do what they think is best.”

The board voted 5-3. Voting in favor were Safdie, Brock, Boston, 3rd District Representative Shirley Parris and 4th District Representative Anita Hale. Voting against were Inman, Netherton and Hamby.

Stace Karge, 9th District representative, did not attend the meeting due to a death in her family.

Inman said he voted against the motion because it did not include some of the concerns of parents who had contacted him.

Though part of the discussion, the motion does not exempt younger students. Maxwell was asked to poll teachers and administrators about their comfort teaching students not wearing masks and to report back to the board. 

A meeting could be called to discuss further changes to the policy. Maxwell said she would like a decision on that portion before the July 29 deadline for applications for the virtual learning option.

See Tuesday’s Chronicle for more on the mask discussion.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at

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