Governor Bill Lee claimed that he’s been against masking kids, but his executive order last July contradicts his remarks. Lee made that claim during a special panel interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Lee was featured alongside fellow Republican Governors Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Ron DeSantis (Florida), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), and Christopher Sununu (New Hampshire). Near the very end of Executive Order No. 55, Lee “strongly encouraged” schools to impose mask mandates.
Local education agencies, schools, and institutions of higher education are strongly encouraged to implement a policy requiring the use of face coverings by students and staff, with appropriate exemptions, and consistent with any policies issued by the Tennessee Department of Education. No policy, local order, or official may prohibit a student, teachers, school employee, or visitor from voluntarily wearing a face covering except to the extent that such face covering presents a safety or security risk. (emphasis added)
Lee made his claim toward the end of the panel interview. Hannity had interrupted Lee’s explanation of how Tennessee’s children are learning in person, unlike Democratic states.
“The differences between our states and blue states are stark. You know, their kids have been out of schools for a year,” said Lee. “In Tennessee, all of the kids are in school. In fact, we have a strong school choice program -”
“Are [the students] wearing masks?” interrupted Hannity.
At first, Lee asserted that students aren’t required to wear masks – but he corrected himself quickly to note that several districts still have mask mandates.
“They are not wearing masks,” Lee replied. “In a couple districts they are. We have a law in this state that allows districts to make that decision – but I’ve said that I don’t think any kid ought to wear a mask. If you want to follow the science, you don’t have any kids in a school wearing masks when kids do not get sick from COVID. That’s science, and that’s what we ought to be doing.”
Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) still requires masks for its students indefinitely. According to MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted, masks will also be required for their summer school program, Promising Scholar. Dickson County Schools (DCS) still requires students to wear masks if they aren’t at least 3 feet apart, per an emergency school board meeting earlier this month.
Nonprofit activist group, Tennessee Stands, first called attention to Lee’s remarks in a post Thursday afternoon. Tennessee Stands founder Gary Humble accused Lee of lying.
“Tired of the lies from the @GovBillLee administration? He blatantly lied on @seanhannity about his involvement in masking our children here in TN,” wrote Humble. “We have no real leadership here. We must stand up for ourselves here. We must stand up for ourselves here in the Volunteer state. #freedomisbetter[.]”
Tired of the lies from the @GovBillLee administration? He blatantly lied on @seanhannity about his involvement in masking our children here in TN. We have no real leadership here. We must stand up for ourselves here in the Volunteer state. #freedomisbetter https://t.co/NlY0EQHmxG
— Tennessee Stands (@tennesseestands) May 27, 2021
Lee’s spokespersons didn’t respond with comment to The Tennessee Star by press time.
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