EDUCATION ISDs updatemask guidelines following state announcement
DIFFERING APPROACHES Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s lifting of the state mask mandate March 10, both Tomball and Magnolia ISDs responded.
Students and sta in Magnolia ISD will no longer be required to wear a face covering as of April 1 .
Caring for teachers The Texas Department of State Health Services announced March 3 that Texas educators and child care workers are now eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines. Beginning March 29, all Texas adults will be eligible to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced March 23. “As administration, I would respectfully ask that we stay with that April 1 time for that to make sure we’re sending a message to our teach- ers because without them, none of this [schooling] happens,” Stephens said March 8. With many parents attending the March 8 meeting, nine spoke publicly in support of the district lifting its mask order immediately. “This is putting our children’s psychological well-being, health and education at risk. ... My daughter cried when I told her of the [state] mandate being lifted. It was such an exciting moment for her,” said Ashlee Gonzalez-Rios, a Magnolia resident for 14 years and mother of a MISD second grader. “Masks, just as vaccinations, should remain a personal choice, and I would hope you would agree that institutions such as the government, TEA and, respectfully, this school board should not be allowed to make medical decisions for our children in the district.” To better understand teachers’ perspectives, Blizzard said the district surveyed its teachers to gauge
BY ANNA LOTZ
Magnolia ISD trustees voted unanimously March 8 to adopt a resolution lifting the district’s mask order April 1, while Tomball ISD o- cials announced in a March 9 release the district will continue requiring students, sta and teachers to wear a face covering through the end of the school year. “We have followed the governor’s orders throughout this school year ... and we are now in a position where the governor’s making a mask a personal choice. The Texas Education Agency responded to that by requiring schools to continue with masks, but they gave school boards the local authority to make that optional,” MISD board President Gary Blizzard said during the March 8 meeting. In response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 2 announcement that Texans would no longer be required by state law to wear a mask as of March 10, TEA ocials stated it would leave mask policies up to individual school boards, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. “I think we’re going to be one of the very, very few districts in the state of Texas that’s taking this step, but I believe we’re in a place to do that,” MISD Superintendent Todd Stephens said. The resolution states the April 1 timeline will allow teachers who choose to get a COVID-19 vaccine to do so before the mask requirement is lifted for students and sta in the district.
Tomball ISD will require students and sta to wear a face covering through the end of the school year.
MAGNOLIA ISD TEACHER SURVEY
Preference before being vaccinated
Given the opportunity to rst be vaccinated, 70% of teachers supported lifting the mask mandate.
Prefer no masks Prefer to keep masks No preference
SOURCES: TOMBALL ISD, MAGNOLIA ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Tomball ISD While students and sta in TISD are asked to continue wearing a face covering through the end of the school year, the March 9 release noted the district expects it will be able to begin the 2021-22 school year with normal operations. However, masks will be optional during outdoor recess for the remain- der of the school year, the release said. “With the end of the school year in sight, we cannot lose focus on the goal we set out at the beginning of the school year of keeping face-to-face instruction available for all families who choose,” ocials said in the release. “We all desire a return to nor- malcy, but the safety of our students, teachers and sta remains the top priority in our school district.”
how they feel about the current requirement that students and sta wear masks. Blizzard said 52% of teachers surveyed said they would prefer no masks, while 45% of teachers said they would like to keep the mask order in place, and 3% of teachers had no opinion. However, Blizzard said the number of those supporting lifting the mask order rose to 70% of teachers if they were rst given the opportunity to be vaccinated. “Besides the masks, I think in Magnolia ISD, we’re as close to normal operating as we can be. It’s one of the things we promised our parents in the beginning of the year,” Stephens said. “We didn’t have that ability [to go against the state mask mandate], but now we do.”
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TOMBALL MAGNOLIA EDITION • MARCH 2021
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