MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Say what you will about efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Tennessee. But one thing is crystal clear: the back and forth about wearing masks in schools is shrouded in confusion, and we have only our overzealous legislature – along with our go-along governor – to thank.
Monday morning when students prepared for school, many of them and their parents had no clue if masks to protect against COVID were mandatory or optional. That’s because Governor Bill Lee went along with the Republican controlled legislature and signed bills into law banning mask mandates in schools and other places.
Then in an unusual Sunday court ruling, the chief federal judge for Middle Tennessee placed a temporary halt on the ban against mask requirements in schools. And the judge did so primarily because lawmakers and the governor created conflict and confusion by putting bans on wearing masks in the first place.
The shame of it all is – it really did not have to be this way. The legislature should have stayed out of what was purely a public health issue. Students, particularly those with disabilities, who are not yet vaccinated should be wearing masks to protect themselves and others. That’s just common sense. But meddling by the legislature and governor has done nothing but cause upheaval.
It’s no wonder people have so little respect for politicians. Because for many of them, it’s about self-service – not public service.