UPDATE: Later Monday, after the protest in Tipton County, Gov. Bill Lee announced a new executive order that would allow parents to opt their children out of school mask requirements. See more on that story here:


COVINGTON, Tenn. — Several parents staged a protest outside the board of education in Tipton County after a mask mandate went in effect for students Monday morning.

About two dozen parents carried signs outside the building on Highway 51 with messages including “Unmask Our Kids,” and “We The People, Not The Sheeple.” One child held a sign that read, “I was kicked out of school today.”

“We’re not asking for anybody to not wear a mask,” said Richard Gray, of Brighton, one of the organizers of the event. “We just want the freedom to choose whether our children wear a mask.”

The Tipton County school board last Thursday approved a motion mandating masks in schools after the latest COVID-19 case report showed 50 students and five members had tested positive for the virus, said Rebekah Byrd, Director of Instruction for Tipton County Schools.

One hundred forty-seven students were quarantined, Byrd said.

Students are required to wear a mask when they can’t socially distance unless a physician’s statement is provided to the principal stating a medical diagnosis that prohibits them from doing so, Byrd said. The board will revisit the rule on a monthly basis.

During the first days of school, about 10% of students wore masks, Byrd said.

Byrd said the district recognized the parents’ right to peacefully assemble.