Williamson County parents react to executive order allowing choice to wear masks

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday afternoon, Governor Bill Lee signed executive order 84 allowing parents to decide whether their child will wear a mask at school.

This came less than a week after a heated Williamson County school board meeting where leaders passed a temporary mask mandate for all elementary schools in the district.

The executive order signed Monday states that Tennessee parents and guardians can “opt their child out” of any local requirements that state a student must wear a mask in school, on a bus, or at school-related events.

Mother, Karen Rayl, was thrilled to see the news from the State Capitol.

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“I’m glad and grateful that Governor Lee finally stood up for the kids,” Rayl said. “I respect people who want to have comfort wearing a mask. But my child’s mental health, their education, it’s difficult to learn eight hours a day. Social relationships. For my child being mask free is a better choice.”

Williamson County father, Corey Martin, addressed the board Monday night during public comment and said he was disappointed their decision to temporarily mandate masks won’t stand.

“I realize that the state government has rendered your efforts last week to be impotent. But I wanted to thank you for your leadership in attempting to protect my daughter’s health with the mask mandate that you tried to do,” Martin said.

After Governor Lee signed the executive order Monday, a group of Middle Tennessee physicians released statements in opposition, including Williamson County Pediatrician, Dr. James Keffer. He said in part, “kids can’t attend school if they are in the hospital, on the ventilator, in quarantine, or grieving for sick or dead family members.”

Williamson County mother of five, Christina Kiblako, says she’s always been in favor of allowing parents to choose what’s best when it comes to masks in the classroom. But she thinks education leaders also need to consider other mitigation efforts as the pandemic continues.

“There are other strategies that also need to be put into place and masks just seem to be the most divisive topic we could be possibly discussing,” Kiblako said.

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