MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some students are taking it upon themselves to keep schools safe. A group of 24 teens from Mount Juliet are part of a group called Mt. Juliet Teens for Change.
They created a petition to pressure the Wilson County Board of Education to mandate masks for teachers and students in 7th through 12th grades. As of Thursday morning, they have 1,700 signatures.
“We’ve been trying to do our best on educating our fellow students and kind of engaging with some people on Facebook, but we are very cautious about that,” said Nate Kammerer, a sophomore at Green Hill High School.
The teens say most students they’ve spoken with are on-board, but the parents are more difficult to convince.
“Whether it’s parents or community members on social media sites, they’ve been very outspoken about it and that’s to put it nicely. They haven’t taken it very well,” Kammerer said.
In the district’s back-to-school plan, masks or facial coverings are not required in the classroom, but are “strongly encouraged,” especially when social distancing isn’t possible. If a student does not feel comfortable returning to traditional school, they can register for virtual learning, at least for the first semester. But, the virtual option does not offer all classes, including AP and honors courses.
“We don’t want to have to risk our lives for a quality education,” said Abby Hill, a junior at Green Hill High School. “We don’t think that’s something that should be a choice at all, especially something as simple as wearing a mask.”
They are pleased with the protocols the district has put in place like temperature checks upon school building entry, isolation of symptomatic individuals, symptom questions to start the day and symptom awareness lessons throughout the opening week of school. But, they feel masks are key in order to prevent their schools from becoming hot spots for COVID-19.
“We have a senior that’s part of our group and one thing she said is the thing that’s really going to make their senior year more normal is wearing masks,” Hill said.
A spokesperson for Wilson County Schools sent the following statement to News 2:
“We appreciate our students being peacefully proactive on a position they want to advocate, however, when it comes to safe and best health practices, we will certainly confide in health experts and organizations, and the recommendation of our district’s leadership when present and future data is examined. From there, if any revisions to protocols are needed, then they will be made.”Bart Barker, Public Information Officer for Wilson County Schools
The Wilson County Board of Education will meet in a “Special Called Meeting” on Thursday 5:00 P.M. at the Wilson County BOE Administrative & Training Complex in Lebanon. The school board says the purpose of the meeting will be for the Director of Schools to offer clarifications on the re-opening plan. The Board will also be discussing the proposed mask mandate.
The teens plan on attending the meeting in hopes they will vote in their favor.