Horn no-mask mandate vote ripped twice

As I read Alan Sloan’s “’Impact on learning’ among Horn reasons against mask mandate” in the farragutpress (page 1A, Sept. 9 issue), I could not help but wonder how Knox County Schools is going to get out of the mess created by Susan Horn and the rest of the KCS Board of Education.

I live in District 5, the district for which Susan Horn serves on the BOE. When I contacted her before the school year started to say that the mitigation measures recommended by the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health must be implemented in Knox County Schools, she responded with misinformation about the results of a legal case in Williamson County that had been circulating on the Internet since it was first produced by Republican Tennessee State House Rep. Bruce Griffey in May 2021.

Based on that misinformation, Ms. Horn compounded the error by asserting incorrectly that the KCS BOE was unable to implement the measures. When I received her e-mail on July 28, 2021, I immediately knew she was being disingenuous. I soon learned from another KCS BOE member that that misinformation had been discussed by the KCS BOE and that all members knew it to be incorrect.

In the article by Alan Sloan, Susan Horn says that her votes on Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 against implementing mitigation measures were based on “several reasons,” including her reading of “a lot of studies” and her assessment of the feedback she was getting from parents.

Horn neglected to mention that the KCS BOE had already decided in April 2021 to follow the mitigation measures recommended by the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health be implemented in Knox County Schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

It’s unclear what research she did prior to her decision to renege on that April 2021 decision, but the KCS BOE’s flip-flop has had disastrous consequences for our school district already in the first month of school. These include thousands of students and hundreds of teachers being absent each day by the end of August, teachers resigning over the unsafe work environment, a teacher and a bus driver in Knox County dying from COVID19 this week, and 23 children with COVID19 admitted to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (four of which were in the ICU).

Horn said that the feedback about the mitigation measures from parents in District 5 and from across the county was about 50-50. It is unbelievable to me that she was assessing whether the feedback was 49-51 for or 51-49 against implementing the mitigation measures recommended by the CDC and the TN Department of Health rather than simply listening to the public health officials, particularly when the KCS BOE had already decided to do just that in April 2021 and told parents that that’s what they were doing to do. In short, the moment she allowed this public health crisis and her response to it as a member of the Board of Education to become political in her mind, she failed as a leader.

Too many have already suffered the consequences of such failure. How much more will it take before Susan Horn and the rest of the Knox County Schools Board of Education come to their senses?

Brian R. Carniello,

5th District

In reply to Sept. 9, 2021 article by Alan Sloan (page 1A), as a constituent on the 5th District and the mother of a Knox County child that was infected by COVID after two weeks of school, I was very disappointed in the response giving by Susan Horn, the 5th District representative and outgoing BOE chair.

If she had concerns about the mask mandate, there were many other things she could have done to attempt to stop the spread in our schools and our community.

Rigorous contact tracing and testing requirements would do a lot. The (Knox County) Health Department is overwhelmed; I received nine days after my child tested positive to find out who our contacts were. Completely useless to stop the spread.

I only found out about other positive children in my child’s class via Facebook. The schools need to be notifying parents of positive cases in our child’s classes, it is just common sense. How else will parents know when a runny nose is not just allergies?

Susan Horn has failed our community, she has shown she is not up to the challenge of leadership. She needs to resign or be recalled from the school board. We need someone that can use common sense and keep our children safe.

Christine Parker,