Parents across the state are coming forward with tales of school officials exhibiting insensitivity and bullying when it comes to enforcing mask mandates, as not all schools are recognizing how children’s medical needs may be affected.
A group of parents has started a database of schools that have removed their mask mandate. In Texas, there are currently 89 public schools and 10 private schools that have complied with citizens’ requests to stop requiring masks.
But some school officials are still resisting.
In the Fort Bend Independent School District, students are under a strict mask mandate. Alegra Gibson’s child, a third-grader, has medical issues that keep her from getting enough oxygen. When Gibson’s child asked if she could take off her mask for a “mask break,” she was told that “third-graders do not need mask breaks.”
Gibson confirmed that FBISD does allow for “mask breaks” for students, as well as maskless lunch and recess. Teachers in FBISD are reportedly telling students “masking is caring.”
Recently, a San Antonio media outlet reported on an anonymous letter written by a North East ISD parent. In the letter, the parent said Bradley Middle School was requiring students to chant the following:
“We are Bradley Bears, masks we must wear. Washing our hands and keeping our distance, help prevent germs from invading our systems. Let’s do our part to stay safe and healthy. Go Bears!”
One teacher thought it was “controlling and robotic.”
According to parent Ashley Hine, Keller ISD officials reduced parents’ speaking time in district board meetings from five minutes to just one minute, presenting a challenge for parents hoping to speak about the district’s mask mandate.
Hine has two children with medical issues that prevent them from wearing a mask. She is advocating to get the district to follow the doctor’s recommendation for her children.
A possible solution for the district would be to modify a child’s education to meet their health needs in what is called a “Section 504” meeting. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects individuals from discrimination based on their disability. In schools, it is used to give students education modifications to help them succeed.
At this time, Keller ISD has a meeting for Hine’s daughter, but the district did not give her an exemption for the mask mandate and still has not scheduled a meeting for her son. She made an impassioned plea on Facebook after she was not allowed to speak to the board of trustees for more than a minute in March.
Even adults are being challenged by school officials.
Bonnie Anderson, a candidate for the board of Katy ISD, was recently escorted out of a board meeting for not wearing a mask. Anderson has been attending board meetings maskless since September 2020. She is involved in a lawsuit against KISD due to the mask mandate. A video of Anderson being removed from the meeting may be viewed here.
Dr. Sheri Tomak, a licensed psychologist from Prosper, recently told Texas Scorecard that “the continued use of masks … does not appear warranted and is more of a detriment to our children.” More from Dr. Tomak can be read here.
Parents concerned about school district mask mandates may contact their local school board member.