We are each others' keepers! Mask mandates in schools protect lives! ¡Somos los guardianes de los demás! ¡Los mandatos de mascarillas en las escuelas protegen vidas!

Governor Bill Lee

"There is no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children." - Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

As MICAH continues its work in pursuit of justice for our youth, we cannot ignore the recent actions of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee--undermining schools' and school districts' abilities to best protect the children in their care. Ignoring the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and our own local Shelby County Health Department, Gov. Bill Lee signed Executive Order No. 84 which allows parents to opt out of local mask mandates for their school-aged children simply by putting their requests in writing.

Our shared faith and values call us to be our siblings’ keeper; that is our moral obligation. By wearing masks in schools, more students will be able to stay in classrooms and receive the educational, social, and emotional support that they so desperately need.

Sign this petition and tell Gov. Lee & our TN Legislators to put our shared values and the health of Tennessee’s children and communities first by 1) rescinding Executive Order 84 and 2) respecting the local authority of county health departments and school boards to set mask policy.

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"No hay revelación más aguda del alma de una sociedad que la forma en que trata a sus niños". - Nelson Mandela, ex presidente de Sudáfrica

Mientras MICAH continúa su trabajo en la búsqueda de justicia para nuestros jóvenes, no podemos ignorar las acciones recientes del gobernador de Tennessee Bill Lee que socavan las habilidades de las escuelas y distritos escolares para mejor cuidar a los estudiantes que son responsables de proteger. Ignorando las pautas de los Centros para el Control de Enfermedades, la Academia Estadounidense de Pediatría y nuestro propio Departamento de Salud del Condado de Shelby, el gobernador Bill Lee firmó la Orden Ejecutiva No. 84 que permite a los padres escoger no cumplir con los mandatos locales de mascarillas para sus hijos en edad escolar simplemente por escrito.

Nuestra fe y nuestros valores compartidos nos llaman a ser los guardianes de nuestros hermanos y hermanas; esa es nuestra obligación moral. Al usar una mascarilla en las escuelas, más estudiantes podrán permanecer en las aulas y recibir el apoyo educativo, social y emocional que tan desesperadamente necesitan.

Firme esta petición y dígale al gobernador Lee que priorice nuestros valores compartidos y la salud de los niños de Tennessee al revocar la Orden Ejecutiva 84.

Petition by
MICAH Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee

To: Governor Bill Lee
From: [Your Name]

Governor Lee-

Our shared faith traditions tell the story of two brothers—Cain and Abel. God was more pleased with Abel than with Cain because he was more willing to make sacrifices as divinely instructed, and in jealousy, Cain killed Abel. When confronted about his brother’s whereabouts, Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God’s response—“What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground”—reveals to us that we are indeed divinely entrusted with our siblings’ well-being and divinely expected not to kill them. (Genesis 4:9-10, NIV)

COVID-19 cases and deaths are on the rise in the state of Tennessee. Within the past two weeks, hospitalizations have increased by 66%, and there have been over 11,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Tennessee in children ages 5-18. Even more concerning, children under the age of 10, who are ineligible for a COVID vaccine, now account for 10% of all new infections. One month ago, there were no children on ventilators in Tennessee, but as of August 17th, there are six (6) children on ventilators fighting for their lives. Our hospitals are once again filling up with COVID-19 patients and our children are bearing the burden.

Allowing parents to opt their children out of schools’ mask mandates--for no stated medical or developmental reason--knowingly puts the lives of countless Tennessee students, school staff, and their families at higher risk of illness and death due to COVID-19. Additionally, fewer students wearing masks increases the risk of infection and transmission to everyone around them. Tennessee students who become ill and those exposed to them will need to quarantine--causing students to miss valuable instructional time as well as the social-emotional benefit of being in school in-person. On top of that, more school-related staff will also be exposed, leaving students who remain without the instruction and support they need.

The blood of those students, teachers, administrators, nutrition staff, custodians, bus drivers, counselors, security officers, relatives, medically vulnerable, and so many others affected by this Order—cries out from the ground. As people of faith, we are called to take the collective action necessary for the good of our entire community. We must do, not the minimum, but the best we can for one another. We are our siblings’ keepers.

We are calling upon you, Gov. Lee and our TN State Legislators, to put our shared values and the health of Tennessee’s children and communities first by 1) rescinding Executive Order 84 and 2) respecting the local authority of county health departments to set mask policy.