FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — It wasn't even for a full day of school when Dr. Stephen Patrick received a message from Williamson County Schools his child could have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 on her first day of the year.
He and other medical professionals hopped on a Zoom call Monday afternoon to share their views aimed at the Williamson County Board of Education, who will vote on masking protocols Tuesday night. Protect My Care hosted the medical professionals teleconference.
Parents with both perspectives -- masking and no masking -- will start protesting before the meeting at 5 p.m. Previously, a small group protested for masks before the school back in July.
"I appreciate the school's diligence to contact me," he said. "But masking lowers the risk for her and everyone in the school. Williamson did a great job of this last year. The virus is surging. We should keep doing that."
His notification wasn't the only one sent out this year. Before school started, Ravenwood parents received notifications exposure could have happened at freshman orientation and an all-sports basketball camp hosted by the school.
Currently, Williamson County Schools started the school year with masks as optional. Superintendent Jason Golden told NewsChannel 5 last Friday morning that policy was subject to change.
The rules were highly debated last year and even made their way in the Williamson County Chancery Court before Judge Michael Binkley. Back in 2020, Citizens for Limited Govt & Constitutional Integrity sued Golden for allowing masks. In Binkley's ruling, he dismissed the case, setting no legal precedent.
Dr. Jennifer King, who works in pediatric care in an ICU in Nashville, said she had two children in the WCS system. She iterated she had witnessed the negative effects of COVID-19 on the body, and didn't want the fate for her children or anyone else's child.
"The pediatric ICU -- it now has children occupying these beds," King said. "We know the things we need to do and in order to make this school-year work. It’s imperative the school board follow the recommendations.
Across the state, only a handful of districts have implemented mask mandates, despite House Speaker Cameron Sexton's threats to call a special session if districts used their authority to do so. His office said Monday that "everything was on the table" in regard to a special session, and couldn't provide a timeline of when that might take place.
But ultimately, Dr. Maya Neeley said she wanted her four children safe this school year from the virus, and saw masks as a way to do that.
"We have done this already, and I know that we are tired, but we can do this again," Neeley said. "We must do this for each other and the safety and well-being for our children."
The Williamson County School Board will meet at 1320 W. Main St., in the main board room. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Public comment will last half an hour with the board voting following afterward.