A woman who laughed at a student while he talked about his grandmother’s COVID-19 death at a school board meeting is being dragged across the internet after a video clip of the incident has gone viral.
The meeting was held on Tuesday night in Rutherford County, Tennessee, where a school board was discussing whether students should be mandated to wear masks amid rising Covid-19 cases and the return of in-person classes.
In the video, Grady Knox, a junior at Central Magnet School explained why wearing a mask could prevent the spread of Covid-19, especially to his older family members that are more vulnerable to the disease.
“If I get COVID, I’m going to bring it to my family and I talk to my grandparents a lot,” the student said.
He then revealed that his grandmother, a former teacher, died after contracting Covid-19.
“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,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
A woman seen carrying a sign that said “Let our kids smile” laughed and shook her head following his comment. Others heckled Knox, telling him to “shut up” during his speech.
😤WATCH: When A RUTHERFORD COUNTY STUDENT tells the board his grandmother, a former @rucoschools teacher, DIED OF COVID because someone wasn’t wearing a mask… anti-maskers behind him LAUGH and INTERRUPT HIM.
— Murfreesboro Holler (@TheBoroHoller) September 7, 2021
Knox told NBC affiliate WSMV that he couldn’t believe the incident and that it was “complete insanity.”
“If they laugh at me about a personal story about my grandmother, that’s just disrespectful I feel,” Knox said. “I was shaken a little bit.”
He added that he hopes those who view the video understand that the people of Rutherford County are not defined by the adults who heckled him.
“As long as I can get my message across, I don’t really think it matters what the crowd thinks of me,” Knox said. “Overall, they’re not the ones making the decisions for the school.”
The school board addressed the issue during a meeting Thursday night by Bill Spurlock, the county’s director of schools.
“It was pretty devastating what happened to that young man at this meeting,” Spurlock. “It’s been all over the news, and I really regret that the young man was treated the way he was. We owe him an apology.”
At the end of the nearly three-hour meeting, the board said more research is needed before it votes on the mask mandate.
The meeting came as 1,000 students in Rutherford County tested positive for Covid-19, forcing 10,000 other students to quarantine.