NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville Mayor John Cooper expressed his frustration with Governor Bill Lee's executive order allowing parents to opt-out of school system mask mandates.
Several school districts in Tennessee put mask mandates in place for students and staff. However, the executive order would allow parents to fill out a form to opt their children out from wearing masks.
Mayor Cooper said it's a bad idea because it will add to the spread of COVID-19.
"Kids can't get vaccinated. Vaccination is our #1 tool but for kids who can't get vaccinated we need to wear masks," said Cooper. "Keeping schools safe is a priority. Ultimately, there will be learning loss because there will be more outbreaks of disease, more quarantines and more learning loss because we were not willing to toe the line and keep our kids safe."
Metro Nashville Public Schools will still have a mask mandate in place in spite of the executive order, though. The move has drawn criticism and a promise of retaliation from other top state lawmakers.
Lt. Governor Randy McNally said in a statement Tuesday he was appalled by the decision.
"The Governor and the General Assembly cannot and will not allow lawful orders to be defied. If these systems persist in resisting the order, we will have no choice but to exercise other remedial options," said McNally.
Read his full statement below:
"I am extremely appalled and alarmed at the response to Governor Lee's executive order from Metro Nashville Public Schools and Shelby County Schools. This order was a compromise that still allows school boards to ensure the health and safety of their students while recognizing the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children. The Governor and the General Assembly cannot and will not allow lawful orders to be defied. If these systems persist in resisting the order, we will have no choice but to exercise other remedial options."
Mayor Cooper said he expects testing to pick up more as the pandemic gets worse in Davidson County.
A doctor from St. Thomas West also reacted to the new, Tuesday.
"The science is settled on this," said Dr. Britt Maxwell. "The CDC recommends all students, visitors and teachers wear a mask to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in schools. Already, across the country, we're seeing educators who have died from COVID. We have to protect them as much as we have to protect our children."
Maxwell is not only a doctor but also a parent of a student in Williamson County Schools. He said he wishes people would consider the positives of masks in schools.