Letter to the editor

I am writing to congratulate and thank the members of the Rutherford County Board of Education who voted to continue to require masks for our public school students. By doing so they demonstrated their commitment to the safety and care of students, teachers and staff in our schools.

What made this vote courageous was that there was loud and forceful objection from some members of the community. The only really serious objection to a school mask mandate I have heard is that it infringes on the freedom of parents to decide if their child should wear a mask. At first glance this may seem a reasonable objection. Freedom is important and should be protected. The role of the parent is of vital importance in the growth and development of a child. Under close inspection, however, the objection fails to hold up. It demonstrates a misunderstanding of both freedom and of responsibility.

A fundamental tenant of freedom is that it is only of value if it is exercised within reasonable limits. A primary example of this is that your freedom may not be used to cause harm to others. Allowing a large number of unmasked, unvaccinated students to mingle with other unvaccinated students is a recipe for widespread harm, not only to other students but to other members of the community. Surely no parent would desire this kind of freedom or want someone else to have it.

It is true that a parent should be responsible for the safety of their child. It would be odd indeed, however, to argue that only they should have that responsibility. When students are at school it is the responsibility of the school to provide for the safety of all the children. That is what our School Board did with their recent vote.

I long for the day when masks will no longer be needed in our schools. But in the meantime, I commend our Board of Education for a good decision.

Grady Franklin, Jr.