Photo Credit: Alliance for Excellent Education / CC
Published May 11, 2021
By Lisa Willard
Hamilton County, TN – A group of parents fighting the required use of masks in Hamilton County Schools plans a protest at the next school board meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson says students will be required to wear masks through the end of the 20-21 school year while inside all Hamilton County Schools building, despite the expiration of the Hamilton County mask mandate.
Parents are frustrated at the lack of transparency regarding mask usage. K-2 students have been required by teachers and principals to wear masks in the classroom for the majority of the spring semester, despite the initial statement in February allowing it to be optional.
Hamilton County Schools issued a statement on Monday referencing the optional use of masks for the younger students.
But the parents want the freedom to choose whether their children wear masks in any grades K-12.
Parent advocate Lisa Willard states, “A mask is a medical device, and yet our parental rights to choose this medical device for our children has been stripped away. We know our children’s health better than anyone in the school building, and it is our responsibility to manage their health. Children across the county are being forced to wear masks while running in the gym and playing outdoors. This defies logic and our voices need to be heard.”
Willard created a Facebook group for like-minded parents to connect and realize that they are not alone. Free the Smiles: Parental Choice Matters is a central location on social media for parents who are engaged against the school system and their overreach of medical authority.
A court victory in Williamson County further emboldens the parents. The judge in Williamson County ruled that the “Williamson County Board of Education exceeded its statutory authority under TCA 49-2-203 to enact the face-covering requirement, and certainly now that there is no more county policy requiring masks, it exceeded its authority.” Even the courts say that medical decisions align with the parent and are not under the school’s jurisdiction – whether the School Board or the superintendent.
• Thursday, 5:30pm (May 13) Eastern Time
• Hamilton County School Board, HCDE Central Office, 3074 Hickory Valley Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421
• Contact Lisa Willard, 423-488-0278. On Facebook: Free the Smiles: Parental Choice Matters