NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – COVID-19 cases among school-aged children is the highest it has ever been in Tennessee sending thousands of sick students and some teachers home.

Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order allowing parents to opt their child out of mask requirements and it drew a lawsuit this week from Shelby County Schools.

This comes as school districts throughout the state are attempting to manage the COVID-19 crisis with limited tools.

Besides Lee outlawing school boards from enforcing mask mandates and there are no approved vaccines for those under 12.

Lee didn’t take questions following a state workforce board meeting and avoided questions at his second public appearance for the day in Columbia.

Dr. Jason Martin, a Sumner County ICU doctor and possible Democratic general election opponent of Governor Bill Lee is calling for a temporary mask mandate as students are filling emergency rooms in the state.

“We need you, Governor Lee, to implement temporary mask requirements in school-aged children just to reduce the spread of the virus in our public schools and we also think it’s a priority to protect the health and safety of our teachers and students,” said Martin.

The Health Department announced this week that school-aged children now make up 36% of all COVID-19 cases in Tennessee.