A dad from Tennessee has gone viral after a speech he gave at a school board meeting was shared on social media. The dad’s speech touched on mask mandates for school, and he’s being praised for speaking up amid scary new surges of the coronavirus across the United States.
Tennessee dad, Justin Kanew, attended a local school board meeting to share his thoughts on the vote a week prior in favor of making it a requirement for all staff, visitors, and students at school to wear masks. That previous meeting got very heated, with parents protesting the mandate. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order making it a requirement for schools across the state to allow parents to exempt their children from any mask mandates.
Justin is a dad to a 5-year-old girl who is just starting kindergarten. The dad took the opportunity at the meeting to share what he feels about the parents who criticize and oppose the mask mandate.
“I’m a dad of a new kindergartener and her first day was right after the chaos last week,” Justin said at his local school board meeting for the Williamson County Board of Education. “She went to school and was one of just a few kids in her class wearing a mask which made her ask me why she had to. My answer was because we want to take care of other people. She’s five years old, but she understood that concept, and it’s disappointing that more adults around here can’t seem to grasp it.”
He continues, “I asked a pastor friend of mine, and he was very clear, there’s no actual biblical justification for using the Bible to get out of a mask mandate passed by a majority of this elected board, but thousands are doing it anyway, calling it a ‘religious exemption,’ which is frankly just sad.”
“Avoiding masks is not in the Bible, but taking care of others is,” he adds. “Now today we have Governor Lee’s executive order to allow opt-outs which is government overreach undercutting a local decision. If you only like democracy when it goes your way, you don’t actually like democracy.”
A video clip of Justin’s impassioned speech was shared on Twitter where it quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views. “Thank you for speaking out. My local board has a meeting on August 25th and I think I am going to speak up, as you did,” one person tweeted in response. “I have a first grader this year and while my district has been great about masks, my community feels differently and plan on demanding unmasking.”
Mask mandates for schools have been a hot topic in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. However, as cases rise across the country, largely due to the Delta variant, experts warn that kids are particularly vulnerable right now. Cases of COVID-19 among kids have been increasing since the beginning of July, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Experts are urging the public and government officials to encourage mask-wearing, particularly for children who are too young to get the vaccines. “Why tie the hands of the public health officials behind their backs? You have two weapons here, one is vaccines the other is masking, and for children less than 12 that’s the only weapon they have,” Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee, told CNN.
While it would be great if people could just get on board with protecting other people and get vaccinated or at the very least wear a mask, we’re thankful for passionate parents like Justin who aren’t shying away from reminding people of their duty to protect their fellow citizens.