In-Depth: A timeline of the mask debate in Williamson County Schools

school board meeting
Posted at 11:53 AM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 13:00:14-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Williamson County School Board recently voted to renew the district’s mask mandate. Here’s a recap of what you need to know about masks in Williamson County Schools.

July 28:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces that it's recommending people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. The agency also recommends that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

August 6:

Williamson County Schools head back to the classroom with masks recommended but not required. "We’re watching it close, we’re talking every day, and we’re going to adjust if we need to based on how the pandemic treats us," Superintendent Jason Golden tells NewsChannel 5 at the time.

August 10:

At a special-called meeting, school board members vote to require masks for elementary school students until Sept. 20, at which point the board will decide whether the latest COVID-19 data supports continuing the mandate.

While the mask debate becomes heated inside the meeting, a group of anti-mask protesters are seen heckling – and some seen threatening – people as they leave the meeting, prompting the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

Warning: Graphic language can be heard in the video below:

Read more:

'We know who you are.' Group threatens doctors, others wearing masks outside Williamson Co. school board meeting

August 12:

After video from outside the meeting goes viral, President Joe Biden addresses the incident during an address and praises health care workers, calling them “heroes.”

Board chair and District 12 member Nancy Garrett vows that type of behavior wouldn't be allowed moving forward. The fallout prompts further security measures from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Williamson County Schools.

Read more:

Williamson school board chair reflects on unprecedented meeting

August 16:

After House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) asks Gov. Bill Lee to call a special session to block school districts from implementing mask mandates, the governor signs an executive order that allows parents to opt-out of school mask requirements.

Two Williamson County families later file a lawsuit against Gov. Lee for the opt-out executive order.

August 26:

Weeks later, the board votes to extend the mask mandate to include middle and high school students.

September 20:

The Williamson County School Board votes to extend the district's mask mandate for all students, visitors and staff through January 19, 2022.

September 23:

A group of parents files a lawsuit against the Williamson County School Board over the district's extended mask mandate, claiming districts who mandate masks are “not only willfully ignoring the established science but are engaging in what amounts to a whole school clinical experimental trial.”

Read more stories:

Williamson County parents push for mask requirement in schools

Parents file mask exemption forms after school board mandates masks in elementary schools

Williamson County father describes 'terrifying' encounter with anti-mask 'mob'

Attorney: Mask mandates are constitutional