Parents who oppose mask mandates laughed at a Tennessee high-schooler while he spoke about his grandma who died of Covid-19 at a school board meeting.
"I'm worried about my family. If I get Covid, I'm going to bring it to my family. I talk to my grandparents a lot. They're higher risk than me, so I don't want to give them Covid. This time 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," Grady Knox said at the Rutherford County school board meeting in Murfreesboro on Tuesday.
Knox was then interrupted as laughing could be heard from people surrounding him who were sitting with signs that read "Let our kids smile." An official had to call for quiet and remind them "we're here to act professional."
"This is an avoidable issue, and by not wearing masks in schools, it's irresponsible. We're killing people," Knox said in his remarks.
On CNN's "New Day," Knox said that he felt disconnected in the moment.
"I couldn't understand why people would...react like that to a statement that I made that's like so personal," he said.
Knox now has a message for those who mocked him:
"I just hope that they see that they've given me this chance now to speak in front of the entire nation and tell about how I believe masks are something that [are] really essential for schools to stay open. And I hope that they see that this is really just benefiting me and people that believe in masks all across the country."
Knox said being in school right now is a "really weird" experience.
"You'll walk into a class some days and half the kids will be gone from contact tracing, because there's so many kids that are getting Covid and so many kids that sit around with them," he said.
His classmate, Will Severn, said that having no mask mandates affects students' access to education.
"Sometimes they're hesitant to report symptoms or contacts outside of school for fear of falling behind in class," Severn said.