JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health has released a statement after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the signing of a new executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates.

Lee announced Monday that parents across the state will legally be allowed to opt their children out of mask requirements at schools, saying that while hospitals across the state have a multitude of COVID-19 patients, they are not primarily comprised of children.

“Districts will make the decisions they believe are best for their schools, but parents are the authority and will be the ultimate decision-makers for their individual child’s health and well-being,” Lee said.

On Monday evening, Ballad Health provided News Channel 11 with a statement, asking parents to consider other children when deciding if they want to send their student to school with a mask.

“Ballad Health strongly supports children wearing masks indoors, particularly when they’re surrounded by other children or unvaccinated individuals. The evidence shows that when everybody in a room is wearing a mask, the risk of virus spread is greatly reduced.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has made a decision allowing parents to opt out of mask requirements. Ballad Health begs parents to consider how their actions and decisions regarding their own children might have an effect on others, especially those with other health conditions. Please consider not only your own child, but other children, too.”

Ballad Health

On Monday, Ballad Health reported 179 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at its facilities. 40 of those patients are on ventilators.