MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the new school year starts, debates over mask mandates are already stirring anger and confusion. Take for example, the dozens of parents demonstrating outside the Collierville School District offices on Monday.
Parents armed with anti-masks signs came out to demand to see the school district’s superintendent regarding the Shelby County Health Department’s mask mandate for students.
The county’s health directive and confusion over the district’s policy are frustrating parents.
“We want the freedom to raise our kids the way we see fit and we’re not going to allow the government to come along to tell us how to do it,” one parent said outside the Collierville School District building on Monday.
It wasn’t your typical start to the school day, with demonstrators and police cars nearby.
“Our goal today was to have the superintendent to come out and reverse the policy, but he’s not coming out. Do you guys look scary? Are you a scary group?” Bob Hendry said as he addressed the crowd of parents. “If we don’t get satisfaction today, we will be back until we get satisfaction.”
These Collierville parents and others were opposed to the recent decision to require masks in school. This comes after the Shelby County Health Department updated Health Directive 24, requiring students to wear masks while indoors.
“We want to have our own right and have our own decision to decide to wear a mask or not. That’s why I’m here today and that’s the right that I have to make that for my child as a recommendation” Keri Blare, a concerned parent, said.
Collierville Schools told WREG the district will require masks, but the health directive would not be enforced as they navigate the legality of the issue with those do not comply.
However, later Monday, Collierville Schools sent out a news release stating the district will be enforcing a mask mandate for all students, teachers, staff, and visitors.
School leaders made it clear they will be following Health Order No. 24, issued by the Shelby County Health Department. Effective immediately, any Collierville student who refuses to wear a mask will be sent home.
Health Order No. 24 is set to expire August 31, 2021.