Doctor: Being called a 'traitor' for advocating for masks at school board meeting 'mind blowing'

A doctor and parent who was called a “traitor” this week for advocating for a mask mandate during a school board meeting in Tennessee said Thursday that the criticism against him from some local parents was “mind blowing.” 

Britt Maxwell spoke out after appearing at a Williamson County School District Board meeting on Tuesday and footage showing a group of parents surrounding health care professionals as they left the building went viral.

"We'll not comply," the group chanted. "We know who you are." 

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Maxwell, who has children who attend schools in the district, including one with respiratory issues, told CNN’s John Berman on Thursday that he left the school board meeting early after sensing that he would get intense pushback from some parents for defending the use of masks in schools amid rapid COVID-19 case surges. 

The doctor said that as he and his wife, who is also a medical professional, left, there was a “chanting” crowd already gathered outside. 

“I was approached and someone put their hand in my face and called me a traitor,”  Maxwell said on CNN’s “New Day.” 

“I don’t see how anyone can say that when I’ve been on the front lines of this pandemic since the beginning, treating patients in rooms, unvaccinated for the vast majority of it, hoping I wouldn’t take it home to my family,” he explained. 

“For someone to say that is mind blowing,” he added. 

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Maxwell went on to reiterate remarks from federal health officials that the current surge across the country fueled by the highly contagious delta variant is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” adding that masks in schools are necessary to protect children, who under the age of 12 are not yet able to get any of the three vaccines authorized for emergency use. 

“The safest way to have school and to keep school in session is for people to mask up, and that’s why I went to that meeting,” the doctor said. 

While a majority of parents in Williamson County supported a mask mandate, with the school board eventually voting Tuesday to implement mask requirements for students and faculty, there has been continued opposition from some vocal parents who argue that mask mandates are a form of unnecessary control. 

As of Wednesday, only 46 percent of Tennessee’s total population had received at least one dose of the vaccine, with about 40 percent fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.