On March 2, 10th grade student Avalon McCartney delivered a petition signed by 800 supporters to school board members.
Read her full remarks below:

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Avalon McCartney

My name is Avalon McCartney and I’m a sophomore at Spring Hill High School here in Maury County. My mom is a nurse, and since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have tried really hard to do what the health experts have told us to do – wear a mask, wash hands, maintain social distance. We are doing our part, just like Governor Lee has asked all Tennesseans to do.

But, people in Maury County aren’t taking this virus seriously. Masks aren’t required at school and less than half of students wear one. As a result, my school has been open and closed multiple times, and that has made it really hard to keep up.

Covid-19 cases in Maury County are still at high levels – currently there are 117 active cases and over the last 7 days, we have averaged 17 new confirmed cases per day. This is largely due to the lack of masks and social distancing procedures. This affects not only those who get sick but students who are forced to stay home because of school shutdowns.

This is a serious problem with a simple solution – masks. So, tonight I am bringing you a petition signed by over 800 people, asking you to require masks in our schools so that they can be open – and stay open – more safely.

Our own health depends on the health of the person next to us, and the person next to them. Most of us believe that our own well being is tied to everyone else’s. In my school, there is simply not enough space to meet the social distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC. That makes mask wearing even more important.

I, along with over 800 other supporters, are simply asking you to do what tens of thousands of Tennessee health professionals, doctors, nurses, and the CDC have all called for to make sure our schools are safe places for everyone:  students, teachers and families. While we are waiting for everyone to get vaccinated, and for the vaccine to stop this pandemic,  please give us the protection we need to keep all of us safe and healthy.