TN parents frustrated over ‘mixed messaging’ from state leaders regarding COVID and schools


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee has surpassed a slew of new pandemic records. According to the state’s Department of Health, children account for 40% of all COVID-19 cases. And pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise.

Now parents say they’re getting mixed messages from state leaders.

Earlier in the summer, Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Cookeville) was one of the first, and loudest voices calling for a special session to ban mask mandates in Tennessee schools. As of Thursday, however, his tune has changed to full support of Governor Bill Lee‘s approach to handling the mask issue.

“The governor’s executive order which I think is the right direction allows parents to be in charge of their child’s healthcare,” said Sexton.

Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates has come under the microscope as thousands of students are missing out on in-person learning due to the spread of COVID.

“There’s parents who are a little upset about not knowing what this year’s going to look like and I think that’s what you’re seeing across the state,” said Sexton.

But as cases grow and schools close Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn is hearing from frustrated parents. Schwinn posted a back-to-school message on the Department of Education’s Facebook page and received some blowback.

One parent writing under the Facebook video said, “Our family has been very, very careful for 536 days of the pandemic and counting. It only took 8 days of in person school for my child to be exposed to covid in his classroom.“

Commissioner Schwinn declined to answer questions regarding the confusion some districts are having.

“The state has failed school children across the state of Tennessee we’re getting no leadership from the governor, we’re getting mixed messages from the commissioner of education,” said Rep. John Ray Clemmons.

Clemmons (D-Nashville) says the current plan is not working.

“COVID is still a reality the delta variant makes it even more threatening, and I’m sure there will be other things that will compound that,” he said, “but when you don’t take appropriate steps and make the affirmative action necessary to protect our children’s health and education, we’re going to continue to see this play out in a very concerning manner across the state of Tennessee in every classroom.”

Kids under 12 are not eligible for a vaccine and of those 12 to 20 who are vaccinated accounts for only eight percent.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Are you vaccinated for COVID-19?

No, but I plan to get the vaccine
No, and I do not plan to get the vaccine

Created with Survey Maker

For people who are fully vaccinated, are you ditching the mask?

Will still use it sometimes

Created with Survey maker

Trending Stories

Latest News

More News

Watch Latest Videos

Surveillance video shows officer hitting murder suspect during arrest

Bright Spot: CPR training

Idaho, Texas, Alabama among states seeing hospital bed space shortage

Dr. David Peterman on NewsNation

California wildfires threaten famous giant sequoia trees

Raleigh family hopes new community center for kids will reduce crime

More News