FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) - Williamson County parents were split Tuesday night on a conversation resurfacing across the nation whether to bring the mask mandate back to schools.

Ultimately, the decision was up to the school board, which voted 7 to 3 in favor of masks in the classroom. 

All elementary school students and teachers must now wear a mask in the classroom and on the bus.

The only exemptions will be those with religious objection or health reasons. Teachers may also remove their mask if they are not within six feet of another person while instructing. 

School started on Friday in Williamson County after the Williamson County School Board decided to make masks optional in schools.

At the school board meeting Tuesday night, parents gathered to either voice their support or their opposition to the revival of a mask mandate. 

“It’s not about whether we agree with masks or not, that’s not the issue,” said Kristin Benton before Tuesday’s meeting. “The issue is parental rights and if we give in on the rights here, what’s next?”

“They told us at school board meetings that they were going to follow CDC guidelines, and they didn’t,” said Ashley McDonough before Tuesday’s meeting. “They’re choosing to ignore them or pick them apart.”

Williamson County parents are split on a conversation resurfacing across the nation: Whether to bring the mask mandate back to schools. Rebecca Cardenas is at the school board meeting where a vote is expected Tuesday night.

News4 cameras were rolling for all four hours of the meeting, and captured tense moments from the debate. 

At one point a man in blue scrubs was escorted out of the meeting by deputies after laying what appeared to be a piece of paper up on the board's desk.

OutKick founder and sports radio host Clay Travis also addressed the school board, and argued that masks are ineffective against COVID-19. 

“You all should be ashamed of the choices that you are about to make," said Clay Travis, Outkick founder and sports talk radio host. "They are more likely to be struck by lightning, they are more likely to die of the seasonal flu. Have any of you ever mandated mask for the seasonal flu? Well, shame on you. Because every kid in Williamson County Schools has been more danger from the seasonal flu every year than they are for COVID.  I would tell every parent here don’t let your kids wear masks.” 

Metro Nashville Public Schools are going to have to Mask Up as they return for a new school year. Face mask requirements are coming back after the Metro Nashville Board of Education approved a universal mask policy in a specially-called meeting on Thursday.

Another parent, pediatrician Dr. Jim Keffer stepped up to the podium to argue for masks, citing their effectiveness against preventing the spread of the virus. 

“What we’ve seen in the last year is some kids getting sick with COVID. Most of them do really well, but some of those kids are having long-term issues with their heart. What I have not seen, is any kids coming in with, ‘my asthma’s acting up because I have to wear a mask at school’ or, ‘I have a skin infection because I have to wear a mask at school,'" Dr. Keffer said. "We would love it is if there was another way out of this pandemic, but what we have right now a way to vaccinate our students and our public and we can wear masks until all of that happens.” 

 

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