MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The Germantown Municipal School District has decided to no longer require students to wear masks.

On New Year’s Eve, the Germantown school board voted 4 to 1 to require face coverings for students when they returned from the winter break.

Wednesday night, the board had another meeting about safety protocols and voted unanimously to ‘strongly recommend’ students wear masks,

Ultimately, they are leaving the decision up to their parents.

Parents protest mask mandate at Germantown school board meeting Wednesday Night

“I don’t care a parent wants to send his kid to school in a hazmat suit. I’m fine with that or not having a mask on. I”m fine with that. We’ve got to get past this because this is really distracting from the good,” said School Board Member Brian Curry.

School leaders said at the time they were concerned about the Omicron variant coming in like a freight train during the holidays and an increase in pediatric cases. But they decided to revisit their masking policy in the special session Wednesday evening.

After looking at their current staffing and decreases in COVID-19 cases in Germantown and surrounding districts, board members said they decided to do away with the mask mandate.

“Collierville does not have a mask mandate and had a 20% decrease in cases. Lakeland, who does not have a mask mandate, had a 7% decrease,” said Curry.

Geoffrey Hicks said his two children, who are students at Houston Middle School, have been in in-school suspension for the last two weeks because they refused to wear masks.

“My son has gotten all of 15 minutes of education in two weeks. That’s it,” he said.

He and other parents who have been fighting the mask mandate are relieved they now have a choice but want it to be a permanent decision.

“This should never happen again. This should never be forced on parents again, and trust me, we won’t forget,” Hicks said.