Nashville Mayor John Cooper backs school defiance of Governor Lee’s (R) executive order allowing parents to opt their kids out of mask mandates. Cooper called the order “disappointing.” The order follows the Nashville Metro Public Schools (MNPS) board voting to mandate masks in classrooms less than two weeks ago. As reported by The Tennessee Star, over 1,000 individuals signed a letter asking the Nashville Metro Public Schools to instate a mask mandate for the 2021 school year.

The order is only in effect until October 5, however. As reported by FOX 17, Cooper sent a statement regarding the order, claiming masks are the “best tool” to keep children safe in classrooms.

Cooper said, “Today’s decision is disappointing, as it undermines a long-held trust that local governments know what’s best for their communities. We made a critical return to in-person learning, only to lose our best tool for keeping schools open and children safe. With our hospitals already under tremendous stress, we are now on a path to more outbreaks, more quarantines, and greater learning loss.”

The executive order states, “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.”

Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Dr. Adrienne Battle also issued a statement about the executive order, saying, “Metro Schools will continue to require face masks” despite the order from Lee.

Battle’s statement reads:

The Metro Nashville Board of Education and I are charged with educating our students and with keeping them safe. Universal masking policies, during the pandemic, are a key mitigation strategy to do just that. To allow anyone to opt out of these policies for any reason, other than legitimate medical need, would make them ineffective and would require more students to be quarantined and kept out of the classroom.

The Governor’s executive order was released without prior notice to school districts for review or comment. As such, Metro Schools will continue to require face masks, pursuant to the rules adopted by the Board, as we further review this order and explore all options available to the district to best protect the health of our students, teachers, and staff.

Lee claimed the Tennessee Department of Health assisted in advising him to make this decision.

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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun | Star News Network. Follow Hayley on Twitter or like her Facebook page. Send news tips to [email protected].