Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive order on Monday allowing parents to have their children opt out of schools' mask mandates.
This comes nearly a week after the Williamson County Schools Board of Education voted to enact a mask mandate inside elementary school buildings and buses.
"While local decision-making is important, individual decision-making by a parent on issues regarding the health and well-being of their child is the most important," Lee said in a press conference Monday. "No one cares more about the health and well-being of a child than a parent. I am signing an executive order today that allows parents to opt their children out of a school mask mandate if either a school board or health board enacts one over a district."
Despite Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton's request of the governor, Lee said he will not call a special legislative session at this time.
The executive order states that "a student's parent or guardian shall have the right to opt out of any order or requirement for a student in kindergarten through twelfth-grade to wear a face covering at school, on a school bus, or at local school functions, by affirmatively notifying in writing the local education agency or personnel at the student's school."
The order will remain in effect through Oct. 5.
It is unclear whether this order requires any action from WCS.
During the press conference, Lee encouraged residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which is available for free to those 12 years old and up. Tennessee residents can find COVID-19 vaccine providers at www.vaccines.gov.
"The most important tool we have to fight the pandemic is a vaccine," Lee said. "I encourage Tennesseans who have not been vaccinated to talk to their doctor to consider getting vaccinated and to make an informed decision. I worked with my doctor and received the vaccine and it has been a dependable tool to keep me healthy."
Read the full executive order below.