Tennessee Governor Bill Lee on Monday issued an executive order that grants parents the right to opt their children out of a school’s COVID-19 mask mandate if a school board or a health board enacts one over a district.

Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) had requested that Lee convene a special session of the state’s General Assembly to address school districts who impose mask mandates upon students. Lee said Monday he would not call for such a session.

“I have signed an EO that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district,” Lee said on his Facebook page.

“Districts will make the decisions they believe are best for their schools, but parents are THE authority and will be the ultimate decision-makers for their individual child’s health and well-being.”

Young girl wearing a mask and reading a book in schoolLee’s executive order says that a student’s parent or guardian has the right to opt out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through the 12th-grade to wear a face covering at school, on a school bus, or at school functions. To do so they must notify staff members at their local education agency or their student’s school — and in writing.

“Any law, order, rule, regulation that would otherwise limit the enforceability of this order is hereby suspended,” according to Lee’s order.

Sexton responded to Lee’s order Monday in an emailed statement.

“I am hopeful this order can be extended further by curtailing the power of the six independent health departments that can still impose unlimited mandates upon our business community,” Sexton said.

“I feel confident the immediate need for a special session has been averted in the interim by using executive orders. However, the House still stands ready to act if the call comes.”

Members of the Williamson County School Board voted last week to mandate COVID-19 masks whether they — or their parents — like it or not. The vote was seven to three, and it applied only to elementary school students and staff. Parents in Williamson County who insist they — and only they — have the right to force a COVID-19 mask on their children left the meeting angry.

Clay Travis, of Outkick the Coverage and also The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, spoke during the public portion of last week’s meeting. He said two of his children attend Williamson County schools.

“We teach our kids that facts matter. That is why they go to school. The facts are these. Masks don’t work. There isn’t a single scientific data that has ever proven that masks work. Also, let’s talk about risk analysis. I feel bad for all of these people walking around in masks and engaging in cosmetic theater thinking that they are making a difference against COVID. They aren’t,” Travis said.

“Here is the truth. Our kids, under 25-years-old, there is a one in a million chance that they are going to die of COVID. They are more likely to be struck by lightning. They are more likely to die of the seasonal flu. Have any of you ever mandated masks for the seasonal flu? Well, shame on you because every kid in Williamson County schools has been under more danger from the seasonal flu every year than they are for COVID. I would tell every parent here don’t let your kids wear masks.”

Members of the Metro Nashville Public School (MNPS) Board recently enacted a mask mandate of their own.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.