NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — Hundreds of anti-maskers surrounded and threatened police as well as masked health care workers after the a Tennessee county school board voted to require masks in elementary schools through September.
“We know who you are,” one man shouted outside the Williamson County School Board meeting near Nashville. “The police are on our side!”
Others yelled “we will not comply,” and “there’s a special place in hell for you!”
It’s happening at school boards and campuses across America right now. In Texas, districts like Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin now require masks on campus, which defies Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.
Attorneys have said school boards have every right to make these kinds of decisions.
A state ban on mask mandates isn’t faring well in the courts in Arkansas either. It was temporarily blocked last week by a state judge who said the prohibition violated the state’s constitution. One plaintiff was an Arkansas school district where more than 1,000 staff and students had to quarantine because of a coronavirus outbreak.
Since the decision, at least three dozen school districts and charter schools have implemented mask requirements for teachers and students.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas now says he regrets signing the ban, but lawmakers decided against reversing course during a special session last week.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of school leaders who enact mask requirements.
The DeSantis threat to withhold salaries drew in the White House on Tuesday as press secretary Jen Psaki weighed using federal funds to pay school officials who “do the right thing to protect students and keep schools safe and open.”
At least three Florida school districts appear to be defying DeSantis’s executive order forbidding masks, including the second-most-populous county in the state and another around the state capital.
Masks are a key coronavirus-prevention tool that doesn’t pose health risks for kids older than toddler age and are most effective when worn by a larger number of people, public health experts say. The Centers for Disease Control has again recommended them for schools.
In Utah, meanwhile, the health director over the state’s biggest county is trying to buck a state law with a new mandate for kids under 12. Angela Dunn, who previously became a target for anti-mask ire as the state epidemiologist, has said she’s deeply concerned about infections sickening kids and disrupting schools.
“There’s far less drama in a school where all kids are wearing masks than a spread of COVID within that school and kids being sent home to address illness, or to be put into quarantine or isolation,” said Democratic mayor Jenny Wilson, who’s backing the move that may yet be tanked by the Republican-controlled county council.
In South Carolina, a showdown is heating up between the Republican governor and the capital city over a school mask mandate that local leaders approved last week. The attorney general threatened to take Columbia to court if leaders try to enforce the rule aimed at protecting elementary and middle school kids too young to get vaccinated. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday it should be up to parents whether to mask kids.
Dozens of doctors in Arizona have begged GOP Gov. Doug Ducey to mandate face coverings in public schools, but he’s held fast to a prohibition in the state budget. Still, about 10 districts in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, representing more than 130,000 students and 200 schools, have defied that prohibition and a high school biology teacher has filed a lawsuit challenging it. A hearing is set for Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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