A Nolensville mother says Williamson County School (WCS) System officials suspended her two children indefinitely because they won’t wear their COVID-19 masks on campus.
Both children attend Mill Creek Middle School.
Kristin Benton said her children’s In-School Suspension (ISS) started Monday. She said the WCS will only take her children back into regular school if they either agree to wear COVID-19 masks or sign a religious exemption.
As of Wednesday, they remain suspended.
Benton cited the work of an industrial hygienist who says masks are ineffective against the spread of COVID-19 and even cause harm when worn over long periods of time.
“As a parent it is my responsibility to protect my kids,” Benton told The Tennessee Star on Wednesday.
“I can’t in good conscience put my kids in masks knowing it could harm them.”
WCS spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said via email Wednesday that she could not discuss a student’s disciplinary issues.
Benton said her two children — in the sixth-grade and the eighth-grade — have no prior history of disciplinary issues at school. She said her two children, while in ISS, have access to computers and do schoolwork, but they do not receive any other instruction.
“My children are very bright, and I work with them a lot,” Benton said.
“They have excellent grades, but, in theory, if they reach a point where they are unable to learn the material on their own and are unable to then pass their tests and their quizzes then, in theory, they could be failed [for the school year].”
Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw ruled last month that Williamson County Schools could force students to wear masks, temporarily halting an executive order by Governor Bill Lee that previously made masks optional.
“Based on the record before the court, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Williamson County, including at plaintiffs’ schools, along with a significant number of students who have opted out, plaintiffs have likewise been denied access to a safe, in-person education experience,” Crenshaw wrote, justifying his decision.
Benton told The Star that some people have accused her of forcing her children not to wear masks at school. She said that’s not true.
“My daughter says ‘When I think about the future and where we could go if we don’t fight this then that brings a wave of panic over me,’” Benton said.
“My daughter also said ‘I realize that we have to fight it now so, that way, our future is better.’”
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