COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. – A few dozen parents in Collierville and Germantown are asking their school districts to do away with mask opt-outs, in direct defiance of Governor Bill Lee’s executive order.
“I’m asking the school to take an act of civil disobedience,” said parent Chelsea Glass at Tuesday’s Collierville school board meeting.
An indoor mask mandate remains in effect in Shelby County, but Lee’s order allows parents to opt their children out of wearing masks at school.
Parents holding signs lined the entrance to the Collierville board meeting and then took turns speaking for about an hour during the meeting’s public comment section.
Another group of parents protested at Germantown’s school board meeting.
“The mask so far is the only effective way,” said Germantown parent Gigi Zhang.
Following public comment at the Collierville meeting, heated words were exchanged outside between parents in favor of mandatory mask-wearing and those who oppose it.
“I have a healthy immune system. Why would I mask a healthy robust immune system? I’m going back to basic biology. We’re at a school. You should know that,” said one woman who declined to give her name or specify which district her children attended.
So far this semester, 182 Collierville students have tested positive for Covid-19. That’s 1.95 percent of the total student population.
In Germantown schools, 101 students have tested positive. According to the district, 17 percent of its students have been opted out of the mask mandate.
“The second I step into that hallway, there’s 3,000 students going the same direction and people near me aren’t wearing their mask,” said Salina Shamsuddin, a sophomore at Collierville High School.
It’s their right under Tennessee law. But some parents say that doesn’t make it right.
“Freedom is not equal to irresponsibility. We need to use our right responsibly,” said one parent.
Collierville Schools still requires its staff to wear masks indoors since only students are covered by the governor’s executive order.