No doubt, there are many opinions about wearing masks when it comes to COVID-19 and our response. Additionally, the debate gets pretty heated when it comes to mask mandates, and rightly so. But when that debate begins to trickle down to school boards making health policy decisions that run contrary to the wishes of parents and also rest on unsettled science, we believe that it’s time to step in.
Recall Williamson supports educating the public during times of a public health crisis and we also support providing resources and materials to the public to ensure safety. We also believe in liberty and the security of rights guaranteed to us by our United States and Tennessee constitutions. These two beliefs do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Williamson County Schools have gone too far. Contrary to what some might say, masks are medical devices, not clothing. Regulating a dress code and regulating the use of a medical device are two very different things. School boards draw their regulatory authority from state statute just like every other state agency and their scope of authority can be found in TCA §49-2-203.
State statute does give local school boards authority to have a child submit to a medical examination by a physician “whenever there is reason to believe” that the child is sick. But there is no statute that gives local school boards the authority to regulate medical care for the entire student population, much less a perfectly healthy student. A child’s overall health and wellbeing is and has always been understood to be under the care of a parent or legal guardian, not a school system.
Here are a few important things to consider.
Suggestions by a governor are not state statutes. Recommendations by the board of education or the board of health are not state statutes. Guidelines from the WHO and CDC are not state statutes. A school board’s regulatory authority is defined by state statute and in Tennessee, prescribed by the General Assembly.
We are fighting and we are asking you to fight with us.