Outkick founder Clay Travis spoke out on the "absurdity of masks in schools" at a heated Tennessee school board meeting Tuesday, where members eventually voted to require masks for students, staff and visitors inside buildings and buses at the elementary school level.
"So @WCSedu put a mask mandate in place only for elementary school students, those 5-11 years old, the school ages least at risk from covid in the entire country. All mask mandates are unscientific madness, but young kids being forced to wear masks makes the least possible sense," he tweeted after the vote.
Travis, who has two children in Williamson County Schools, had rallied against the requirement of masks, saying that Williamson County Schools Board of Education members should be "ashamed of the choices that you are about to make." He argued masks in schools made "zero sense."
"I feel bad for all these people walking around in masks engaging in cosmetic theater thinking that they are making a difference against COVID – they aren't. Here's the truth, our kids – under 25 years old -- one in a million chance that they are going to die of COVID. They are more likely to be struck by lightning … they are more likely to die of the seasonal flu," Travis said at the meeting. "Have any of you ever mandated masks for the seasonal flu? Well, shame on you because every kid in Williamson County Schools has been under more danger from the seasonal flu every year than they are for COVID."
"I would tell every parent here – don't let your kids wear masks. Refuse! Refuse!" he continued to the applause of many at the meeting.
After his comments, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., thanked Travis and dozens of parents in her state "for standing up for common sense."
"No masks for kids!" she wrote.
On Friday, Williamson County Schools started its 2021-2022 school year without a mask mandate for students, teachers, and staff after the district decided to cancel its original mask mandate when the last school year ended and coronavirus cases started to decline, reports said.
Since then, cases of COVID-19 and its Delta variant have increased across Tennessee and the county.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the meeting, with anti-mask protesters outnumbering those in favor of a mandate, reports said. Travis tweeted a video of the crowds, writing how the "anti mask at schools revolution" was underway in Tennessee.
"These are the people who couldn’t get in the meeting tonight," he wrote. "They’ve never seen a crowd this big before for a school board meeting."
Chants of "no more masks" were heard on occasion as the meeting room doors were opened, according to The Tennessean. A person was escorted out of the meeting by Williamson County deputies at one point.
WCS Superintendent Jason Golden had recommended that the board vote to require masks at the elementary level, which drew boos and some even yelled "coward," according to Nashville's WTVF-TV.
Golden said 25 elementary school students have tested positive for the coronavirus since school began on Friday. In elementary schools, 27% of students have chosen to wear a mask, the paper reported. Golden said he recommended the policy because elementary-age students are not eligible to be vaccinated.
More than 60 Williamson County physicians wrote a letter to Golden this week, asking him to support a temporary mask requirement to keep kids safe. The letter stated that children make up nearly 14% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
In the week ending July 29, Tennessee ranked as the third-highest state in pediatric cases per 100,000 children, the letter added.
Doctors argued that masks are the best way to protect unvaccinated children in a classroom setting, FOX 17 Nashville reported.
"We're not asking for people to be required to get vaccinated, we're just asking that people would be courteous and think about other people," said parent Michelle Sol. "And consider masking as a love your neighbor and not as a restriction of freedom."
Others told FOX 17 they wanted the freedom to choose whether their child wears a mask at school.
"It's a parent choice to make medical decisions for a kid, it's not the schools decision to make medical choices for us," added Williamson County parent Kristin Benton.
Masks will remain optional at middle and high schools, the Tennessean reported. The new mandate takes effect Thursday.