The teen was asking the school board to mandate masks for students and school staff
A Tennessee teen was laughed at during a school board meeting this week after sharing that his grandmother died from COVID-19, and asking the school to implement a mask mandate to avoid additional illness, missed school days, and death.
“This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system died of COVID because someone wasn’t wearing a mask,” Grady Knox, a junior at Central Magnet, said to the crowd and Rutherford County Board of Education. He begins to speak around the 1:10:35 mark.
During his time, people in the crowd holding “Let our kids smile” signs laughed at and ridiculed the junior. Knox continued: “I’m worried about my family,” he said. “If I get COVID, I’m going to bring it to my family, and I talk to my grandparents a lot. They are higher risk than me, so I don’t want to give them COVID.” The video was uploaded to YouTube, gaining outrage from those who’ve watched.
Knox stopped for a few seconds as he was interrupted by the crowd. Then, board Chairman Coy Young interjected, saying, “Hey guys, we’re here to act professional.”
Knox continued: “This is an avoidable issue, and by not wearing masks in schools, it’s irresponsible. We’re killing people. This is not something we should be doing for the education of our students. Thank you.”
Knox was among seven students who came before the school board asking them to require masks in school. “This is going to continue if we don’t have a mask mandate. Contact tracing has been a big issue for students this year because all of us know that if we get contact traced we’re going to miss at least a week of school,” he said during his speech. “That’s a week of instruction, a week of teacher contact that we’re going to miss.
The fact that grown adults would mock a child while he spoke about his grandmother’s death from a virus that’s killed 654,061 Americans and counting is abhorrent, but unsurprising. Similar situations have been popping up at schools all over the US as parents confront principals, teachers, and even provoking students into altercations — all over wearing a mask that can protect those unable to be vaccinated. It’s truly unimaginable how far we’ve fallen.
His father, Kerry Knox, a Murfreesboro attorney, said he was proud of how his son handled the unbelievable situation. “I wanted to defend him but he handled it so much better than I could have,” he told USA Today. Board vice chairwoman Tiffany Johnson agreed, horrified by what she saw unfold. “At that moment,” Johnson said, “those people should have been removed from the meeting,” saying she looked towards the sheriffs present to act. “It was deeply troubling.”