Tennessee Gov. Lee issues order making masks optional for school students

School masking policies have again become a flashpoint as children return to the classroom this year. While many students are being forced to mask up, one Republican governor just made clear that it won’t be happening in his state.

According to The Daily Wire, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order on Monday that will allow parents to choose whether or not their children will wear a mask in the classroom.

“I want to acknowledge the frustration and fear that many are feeling — fear of COVID and its effects on your family, fear of government intervention and its effect, and frustration over everything from masks to information that changes by the day,” Lee told reporters.

“No one cares more”

“Right now, some of the greatest frustration is occurring in our K-12 schools, especially around the issue of mask mandates,” Lee continued.

“While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important.”

“No one cares more about the health and well-being of a child than a parent,” he stressed, adding, “Districts will make the decision they believe are best for their schools, but parents will have the ultimate decision-making for their individual child’s health and well-being.”

Lee’s order states that “a student’s parent or guardian shall have the right to opt-out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through twelfth-grade to wear a face covering at school, on a school bus, or at school functions, by affirmatively notifying in writing the local education agency or personnel at the student’s school.”

Some doctors oppose

As Memphis’ WREG reported, not everyone is supportive of Lee’s new masking policy. A group of Tennessee doctors posted a letter online in which they argued that masks shouldn’t be optional.

“As trained healthcare providers, we strongly oppose Governor Lee’s Executive Order,” it stated. “Scientific evidence demonstrates that masks can decrease the spread of COVID-19.”

Lee isn’t the only Republican governor to address the issue of school mask mandates as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an executive order in July making masks optional in his state’s schools.

Fox News reported on Wednesday that the Florida Board of Education voted to sanction two school districts that are requiring students to don masks despite DeSantis’ order.

“These districts, maybe while well-intentioned, have not followed the protocols,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said. “They have to comply with the law, whether they agree with it or not.”

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