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Parents threaten doctors and nurses at Tennessee school board meeting over mask mandate

Police had to help mask supporters, several of who are doctors or nurses, get safely to their cars and out of the parking lot.
Credit: Matt Masters, Williamson Home Page

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A Tennessee school board meeting over a mask mandate got heated when parents went after each other for differing views.

Police had to help mask supporters, several of who are doctors or nurses, get safely to their cars and out of the parking lot.

The Williamson County Schools board voted 7-3 to reinstate masks for elementary schools. Before the meeting was over, some parents opposed to the mandate had to be escorted out.

Then after the meeting, video captured by Matt Masters, Williamson Home Page, shows parents against the masks threatening those for it.

“It was hard to fathom,” Dr. Meredith Duke, a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the mother of four kids in Williamson County schools, told WSMV. “I was wearing a white coat and a mask. I think it was very clear what I was supporting.”

Duke said she was at the meeting with her son.

“There were people screaming and threatening me, and I just couldn’t believe it,” Duke said.

WARNING: The below video contains graphic language and threats of violence:

At one point, a sheriff deputy ends up pleading with parents to remain peaceful.

“We are here for everybody’s safety,” he said. “We are here for y’all as much as we are here for everybody else. OK, we are away from our families, some of us are on a 17 almost 18-hour day, and that’s me.” 

WCS Executive Director of Communications Carol Birdsong released a statement about the meeting:

“Our parents are passionate about their children’s education, and that’s one of the reasons for our district’s success over the years. With that said, there’s no excuse for incivility. We serve more than 40,000 students and employ more than 5,000 staff members. Our families and staff represent a wide variety of thoughts and beliefs, and it is important in our district that all families and staff have the opportunity to be represented and respected. We will continue to work toward making sure all voices are heard and that all families, staff and community members feel safe sharing their opinions.”

The school board said it will reassess the mask mandate on Sept. 20. Parents can also request a medical or religious exemption for their child. Teachers can also remove their mask if they are at least six feet away from another person.