Some parents angry after Rutherford County School Board votes to keep mask mandate in class

Rutherford County School Board
Posted at 4:26 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 21:49:56-04

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The school board in Rutherford County voted to keep the mask mandate in class, and some parents aren’t happy about it.

At an hours-long Rutherford County School Board meeting, a group of parents expressed their concerns with masks being required for students. “Mandatory face coverings have no place in a free society,” said a parent who identified himself as William. "When fascism comes it will be wearing a mask.”

Another parent who identified as Timothy said in the recorded meeting, "We hear why do I have to wear this? I can’t breathe."

Parent Chris Littleton, who attended the meeting, said it doesn’t make sense that there’s not a mandate in the state and county, but masks are still required at school. "So the same kids who are in class with my children walk home, hang out after school, no one’s wearing masks, and we’re all in close proximity," Littleton said. "Everyone had the same signs the one behind me that says 'let our kids smile,' that’s all we’re asking.”

School board members who voted to keep the mandate said they're following medical advice.

"We must work for the greater good," Board member Sheila Bratton said.

"The medical professionals have all told me to keep the masks,” Vice Chair of the Board Tiffany Johnson said.

Littleton said his frustration stems from what he calls inconsistencies. He feels that COVID-19 rules are cherry-picked by the district. "The school doesn’t follow CDC guidelines, and the school board mentioned that inconsistency,” Littleton said. “One that I tend to point out to them that flu is two times more deadly to kids than COVID, but at no point have we reacted this way for flu."

In an email to NewsChannel 5's Alexandra Koehn, Rutherford County Schools spokesperson James Evans said:

“It is inaccurate to say “parents are upset” about the mask requirement because our Board has heard from multiple parents, employees and students who continue to support the mask policy.

There are parents who do not support the policy and there are many who do, which you can see based on comments on our Twitter and Facebook accounts after last night’s decision to maintain the requirement for the remainder of the year.

We continue to follow CDC guidelines for masks during our normal school operations as a safety precaution to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Athletics are optional activities and we are following the guidelines set forward by the TSSAA.”

Parents against masks noted additional concerns including health issues, communication obstacles, and social problems. While some parents feel their voices weren't heard, the debate on mask-wearing in class appears to be far from over.