NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — School districts throughout Tennessee are beginning to mandate masks, going against the threat of Tennessee’s House Speaker Cameron Sexton who said he would call for a special session to ban mask requirements in schools.
Speaker Sexton is talking with House lawmakers to push for Governor Bill Lee to call a special legislative session to stop local school districts from requiring masks, something the governor is also opposed to.
Despite clear warnings from health leaders in neighboring states like Arkansas and Mississippi, extreme spikes in COVID-19 there are forcing students to quarantine, and some classrooms to close.
“The deal is right now everything is really getting worse because of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Timothy Quinn, a Mississippi Family Medicine Doctor.
However, Speaker Sexton is not backing away from his threat to outlaw masks requirements for schools. His office releasing a statement saying: “We are starting discussions with House members.”
“I think it’s ignorant, I think it’s silly, and I think the Governor and the Speaker… they need to grow up,” Rep. Vincent Dixie, a Democratic House Leader said in response to calls to limit local school boards’ decisions to enforce masking.
Only the governor of Tennessee can convene a special session among lawmakers.
“We already are moving toward capacity of our ICU beds, and what do we do for those children that are really really sick, that may need this, and this could be prevented by parents just protecting their kids,” Rep. Dixie said.
Rep. Dixie says the state is already behind in responding to the virus and politics should be pushed to the side when it comes to the health of Tennessee kids.
“What is the governor and the speaker‘s motive,” Rep. Dixie said. “If it’s not to get the kids back in school to learn in person and keep them there, what’s going to keep them there, by taking safety precautions.”
Governor Bill Lee’s office released a statement saying:
“As the Governor reiterated this week, he does not believe masks should be required in schools, and parents should make the decision that’s best for their family. We are currently monitoring district policies as the school year begins.”