‘Here we go again’: Metro Nashville school board member speaks out against new mask mandate

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NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) — Thursday morning, the Metro Nashville Public School Board voted 8 to 1 in favor of adopting a mask mandate for the upcoming school year.

Only one board member, District 6 Representative Fran Bush, voted against the mandate.

“We had a plan. We should’ve stuck to the plan,” Bush said.

Last month the school board agreed masks would be optional heading into the 2021-2022 school year. But, as COVID cases increased over the last few weeks Dr. Adrienne Battle and most of the school board changed their minds.

“Once again, here we go again. Parents are not able to have a choice for their students. I think they’re kind of getting a little bit frustrated,” Bush said.

Lauren Herring has two children in Metro Schools. She is one of those frustrated parents.

“They [the board] are saying that it is all or nothing, and I believe that that is wrong,” Herring said.

Herring is worried about the health and safety of her children, but she’s also concerned about their education after a year of online learning. She thinks masks can be a distraction and hinder learning.

“By making a blanket mandate we’re telling a large group, tens of thousands of students, that you’re learning doesn’t matter. Only the fact, the fact that you don’t get COVID matters,” Herring said.

Other MNPS parents, like Daniel Stafford, are relieved the board agreed on a mask mandate since kids 12 and under aren’t yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s minimally invasive and it’s proven effective,” Stafford said about wearing masks.

Bush says she thinks it’s a parent’s right to choose what’s medically best for their own child and doesn’t think the conversation about masks in Metro Schools is over.

“I don’t think it’s going to be over. I think parents are going to stand up even more now, those who want options. So, I do believe that this is not over, and parents want their voices to be heard,” Bush said.

On Monday, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said he’d ask Governor Bill Lee to call a special session if school districts begin mandating masks. He has not publicly commented on the matter since Metro Schools passed their mandate Thursday morning.

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