FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Franklin Special School District board voted unanimously to implement a temporary mask mandate for students and staff in all schools buildings and on buses.
The requirement will go into effect on Aug. 23 and will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21. At that time, the board will reevaluate the current COVID cases and decide whether or not the requirement should be continued.
"We do this because we care about your kids," said Kevin Townsel, a FSSD School board member. "We care about doing what isn’t fun, but it's necessary."
A total of 15 students, parents and teachers voiced their concerns to the board prior to the vote - while the majority spoke in favor of masks, others asked the board to allow parents to continue having the choice.
"I sit in my geometry class, and what am I thinking about, angles?" said one student. "No, I am thinking about if the person who sat her before me has COVID."
"If you impose a mask mandates you are ushering in tyranny," added another parent. "Masking children is child abuse."
Director of Schools Dr. David Snowden said he understood the strong opinions on both sides, but recommended the mask requirement. He said the district has seen an increase in COVID cases over the last week.
"Our goal now is to everything we can to defeat the real enemy of COVID," said Dr. Snowden.
Dr. Snowden said many of the district's 3,500 kids are too young to get vaccinated and he believed masks not only provided additional protection, but could help reduce the number of people who may have to quarantine if exposed to a positive case. He said this will help keep schools open.
However, Governor Bill Lee recently signed an executive order allowing parents to opt kids out of any school mask mandates. Some parents at the meeting indicated they would exercise this opportunity.
The FSSD vote follows a heated Williamson County School Board meeting in which the board voted to temporarily require masks inside elementary schools. Many parents attended the meeting in protest and asked the board to keep masks an option, allowing parents to decide.