On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee signed an executive order that allows parents to choose whether they want their children excluded from COVID-19 mask mandates in public schools.
In a tweet, Lee said: “No one cares more about the health & well-being of a child than a parent. Districts will make the decisions they believe are best for their schools, but parents are THE authority & will be the ultimate decision-makers for their individual child’s health & well-being. I will not be calling a special session at this time.”
Parents and Guardians in Tennessee Can Now Opt Their Kid Out of Mask Requirements
The said executive order gives the parents or guardians the right, through a written notice, to opt their children from any mask requirement in school – from kindergarten to grade 12. This applies to mask mandates in schools, on a school bus, and at school functions in Tennessee.
Lee also released a statement, saying “local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important.”
The Tennessee governor also put forward the importance for more residents of the state to get vaccinated. However, he assured many that vaccinations would not be required.
Tennessee Republican state House Speaker Cameron Sexton had asked the governor to call for a special session in an attempt to stop school districts from coming up with mask mandates.
Following the announcement of the order, Sexton lauded the governor’s action on Monday.
In a series of tweets, he wrote: “Gov. Lee’s executive order issued today is good news in affirming a parent’s right to make healthcare decisions for their children … feel confident the immediate need for a special session has been averted in the interim by using executive orders. However, the House still stands ready to act if the call comes.”
On the contrary, Democratic state Rep. Antonio Parkinson criticized the order and described it as “irresponsible.”
“Aren’t emergency orders supposed to be used to help mitigate or control but not exasperate an emergency situation? Is this an abuse of power?” he wrote on a tweet posted Tuesday morning.