WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn.--A group of Williamson County school parents have filed a lawsuit against the local school board members over mask mandates even though the board has allowed for parents to opt-out of the mandate.
Williamson County was under the national spotlight recently after protesters attended a board meeting which turned heated in the parking lot afterwards. On Monday, the district voted to extend the mask mandate until January 19, 2022 for students, staff, and visitors while also continuing the opt-out. So far, 34% of students have opted out of the mask mandate in the county.
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On Wednesday, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against board members, arguing masks can do more harm than good to students. The suit cites studies which show more people under the age of 18 died from the flu during the 2018-2019 season than have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. The parents also cite foreign studies on the effectiveness of masking, stating "all parties mandating the use of facemasks are not only willfully ignoring established science but are engaging in what amounts to a whole school clinical experimental trial."
The suit also references the personal experiences of their children, including one student reportedly developing a sinus infection last school year which the parent attributed to inhaling C02 and bacteria. Another parent cited how their child was among the opt-outs last year and was forced to wear a lariat identifying him as such which the suit claims singled him out and subjected him to comments from peers.
The suit claims actions by the school board have resulted in the violation of procedural due process and asks the court to vacate and set aside the mask mandate while also declaring it unconstitutional.
The suit comes as the number of school-aged children in Tennessee saw rapid increases, at one point accounting for nearly 40% of all COVID-19 cases in the state. As of September 22, there are 18,218 school-aged children who have tested positive for COVID-19 the last 14 days. Health experts have also pointed out the high transmissibility of the Delta variant which has led to the surge in school-aged children. Dr. Christopher Keefer, a pediatrician at Meharry Clinic who is certified in pediatric infectious diseases, says children can impact community spread and outcomes even if the severity in children remains low.
The Delta variant has been found to be 2-3 times more transmissible compared to previous versions of the virus, point of concern for health professionals like Dr. Keefer. "It doesn't appear to be more deadly than the previous versions of covid, for that we are happy. We are afraid however if left unchecked that in 3 to 6 months we will no longer be having interviews talking about the Delta variant. We may be talking about future variants that may start becoming more deadly or disease-causing."
FOX 17 News has reached out to WCS for statement on the suit and will add any responses in this article.
See the full lawsuit below or CLICK HERE: