The Tipton County Board of Education parking lot has seen a lot of action the last four days.
On Monday, a group of citizens protested in front of the board, located on Highway 51, carrying signs expressing their belief that children in Tipton County Schools should not be forced to wear a mask.
This morning a group of about a dozen protesters occupied the same space expressing the exact opposite sentiment.
One side read, “Mandate masks or close the schools.” Another read, “If masks are optional, make virtual learning optional.”
“We want the the board of education, legislators and the health department to listen to our voices because our kids matter,” said Tuwana Jackson, the group’s spokesperson. “We want our voices to count as parents because we care about our kids.”
Tipton County Schools issued a mask mandate for its students and employees to be effective Monday due to rising COVID numbers. Later that day Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order giving students the choice to opt out of mask mandates.
On Wednesday Tipton County Schools reported 1,530 students, about 15 percent of those enrolled, had opted out of the mandate. There are an estimated 105 children ages 5-18 in Tipton County with active COVID cases and 1,162 (11 percent) students were absent Wednesday.
Jackson said she had sent e-mails to the school board and legislators but had not received a response.
She said she has three children in the county’s school system. The two older ones are vaccinated, she said, but the youngest one is not old enough to get the vaccine.
“I don’t want him at risk and I don’t want our family at risk,” she said.