A student was heckled while speaking about his late grandmother during a Tennessee school board meeting earlier this week — an incident that prompted an apology from the board’s outgoing chairman, KTLA sister station WKRN in Nashville reported.
The now-viral video shows Grady Knox, a junior at Central Magnet School, speaking in favor of a mask mandate at Tuesday night’s Rutherford County School Board meeting. He talked about his grandmother, who died as a result of the coronavirus.
“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,” Knox told the board before he was interrupted.
The people behind the teen began laughing and shaking their heads, while holding up signs that read, “Let our kids smile.” At one point, someone in the background can be heard screaming, “Shut up!”
After looking around, Knox continued. “By not wearing masks in schools, it’s irresponsible.”
The clip was widely shared on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, and the story had garnered national attention from various media outlets.
On Wednesday, Knox spoke to Nashville television station WSVM, calling what happened “complete insanity” and that he felt “shaken a little bit.”
But that won’t stop him from speaking out, he said.
“As long as I can get my message across, I don’t really think it matters what the crowd thinks of me. Overall, they’re not the ones making the decisions for the school,” Knox told the TV station.
Outgoing Rutherford County School Board chairman Coy Young addressed the incident at Thursday night’s meeting.
“I’d like for you guys to keep in mind a young man was here the other night to speak which was a student of Central Magnet. His name is Grady Knox. He was trying to tell us a story about his grandmother he lost. If you haven’t heard it already, it was pretty devastating what happened to that young man at this meeting. It’s been all over the news and I really regret the young man was treated the way he was. We owe him an apology,” Young said.
The Rutherford County School Board passed a temporary mask mandate at Thursday night’s board meeting. The mandate goes into effect Monday and runs through Oct. 14.
However, families can opt their children out of the requirement under Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order.