Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order on Monday, making it optional for parents to have their kids wear masks in public schools.
"No one cares more about the health & well-being of a child than a parent," Lee, a Republican, tweeted. "Districts will make the decisions they believe are best for their schools, but parents are THE authority & will be the ultimate decision-makers for their individual child's health & well-being. I will not be calling a special session at this time."
The order outlines that parents have the right to opt-out of any mask-wearing by their children in grades kindergarten to twelfth grade, be it in school or school functions.
The order states, "local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important."
Tennessee state House Speaker Cameron Sexton had previously requested a special session in an attempt to prevent school districts from mandating masks. But in a tweet, Sexton praised Lee's executive order.
"Gov. Lee's executive order issued today is good news in affirming a parent's right to make healthcare decisions for their children," Sexton wrote. "I feel confident the immediate need for a special session has been averted in the interim by using executive orders. However, the House still stands ready to act if the call comes."
Still, some lawmakers disagreed with Lee's order. Tennessee state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Democrat, decried that Lee's decision was "irresponsible," according to Fox News. "Aren't emergency orders supposed to be used to help mitigate or control but not exasperate an emergency situation? Is this an abuse of power?" Parkinson wrote.
Currently, Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville Public Schools announced that they would still be continuing with the mask mandates despite Lee's order.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.