MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – The battle of whether to mandate masks continues in Rutherford County after parents and students had the chance to voice their opinion during a special meeting Tuesday night.
The meeting was originally set to only last an hour, but with so many concerns and opinions, no final decision was reached.
“I have to be realistic, and when my daughter goes to bed and she says ‘mommy, if you die, I want you to look over and watch over me,’ that’s disturbing to me,” said Tia Harris-Hicks.
Harris-Hicks has two children in the Rutherford County School District and says ever since school began this fall, it’s been a struggle.
“When my child has to have a school that barely has any subs, and half of the teachers are out, that becomes problematic, ” explained Harris-Hicks.
Last week the school district reported more than 1,000 students were out after testing positive for COVID-19. The district also reported more than 10,000 were in quarantine for at least one day. Harris-Hicks says she was already concerned about the high COVID cases inside schools; her breaking point came during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
“I just was very, very disappointed, in what I saw. My stomach was in knots, and I finally decided at that point, my children will no longer be able to go to school in the public school system,” said Harris-Hicks.
Opinions from both sides of the debate were heard during Tuesday night’s meeting. One student was interrupted as he shared how “during this time last year, my grandmother who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system, died of COVID because someone wasn’t wearing a mask.”
“They’re not listening to the children in Rutherford County,” said Harris-Hicks. “There was a young man that spoke about losing his grandmother and the people that booed and laughed at him; he was a very brave young man.”
The spread of the virus is what’s causing the biggest concern for parents like Harris-Hicks. She has a weakened immune system and has taught her children to wear a mask at all times when out in public.
“I’ve had to put my children through counseling just because of their fear, that they may go to school and come home and make me sick,” explained Harris-Hicks.
Now, she is making plans to pull her students out of the classroom and opt for in-person learning. However, this isn’t the first time she has been faced with this decision.
Back in March of 2020, during the beginning of the pandemic, she was looking at alternative options for her children. However, this time around she is hoping to get ahead of the virus.
The district revistsed the mask mandate options and whether or not the board can decide changes to quarantine procedures.