“Friday will be my last day as a KCS student” | Knox County Schools mask mandate sparks emotion

One student told the Knox County Board of Education he would leave school over the mask mandate, while another said she felt terrified walking past protestors to get to school.
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:35 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knox County Board of Education held met to discuss the process for selecting a new superintendent, but during the public forum portion of the Wednesday night meeting, students and parents turned the conversation to a federal judge’s temporary mask mandate.

65 people spoke at the public forum in total, with the vast majority arguing against the mandate.

“I will never comply with a mask I have not worn one yet. I will never get a COVID shot and I will never get one and I’ll take it to the death. And I will defend it under our constitution to our death,” said an upset Knox County man at the meeting.

Some students also got emotional at the meeting, with one saying he would not be attending school past Friday.

“I’ll finish by saying this Friday will be my last day as a KCS student,” said Logan Taylor.

One student felt differently, saying she felt afraid to wear a mask at school at times because of anti-mandate protestors.

Students Speak Out

“For over a week I’ve had to be on my phone or with my mom as I walk past the protestors. There are about 40 people some with kids many without,” she said. “They crowd together and walk on school property and stand by the office entrance. They’ve even gotten to the point where they’re standing by the student entrance where I have to walk by them to get inside. It is terrifying.”

Many members of the audience spoke against masks by saying that they are not effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. Multiple studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that schools with mandates in place see less cases, however.

Other audience members said they do not agree with the mask mandate because COVID-19 does not affect children. While it is true that children often do not see as severe COVID-19 cases as other populations, health experts have warned that serious cases are possible.

Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey has also warned that the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is more contagious than other strands, and that can put a strain on hospitals. Experts have also warned that any hospitalization, serious or not, can cause a chain reaction of delays in giving care to patients hospital-wide.

The Board of Education did not plan on speaking on the mask mandate, and, beyond some personal statements, did not disclose any new information about it.

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