Katie Procter, Reporter
On March 2 Governor Greg Abbott announced the end of the state mask mandate and that the state would open 100% starting today, with the option for school districts and businesses to opt out. LISD decided to continue the mandate.
“There are a large number of staff members who have yet to be vaccinated,” superintendent Chane Rascoe said. “Many of these staff members either have preexisting conditions or have family members who have preexisting conditions that put them at risk. All of our staff should be allowed time to be vaccinated prior to lifting the requirement.”
There are a set of Texas Education Agency (TEA) COVID guidelines that all Texas districts must follow.
“We will be monitoring this issue closely,” Rascoe said. “It will take several weeks for all our staff, who want to be vaccinated, to complete the full vaccination cycle. From there, it will depend a lot on the TEA requirement to quarantine for close contact. We are still working through that issue. It will also depend on how the virus spreads over the next several weeks when the no-mask order goes into place soon [in the state].”
Many scientists and health professionals have stated that masks are worth having to wear and an effective way of stopping, or at least slowing down, the spread of the virus, and English teacher Dondi Hinds agrees.
“I think it is proven to be effective in not spreading it, and we don’t have as much social distance as we’d like, but we have been able to stay open since the beginning of this,” Hinds said. “And I feel that this is definitely a part of it.”
To some, masks can be inconvenient but history teacher Mark Guszak believes they are necessary as of now.
“I think it makes sense to not lift it because all of the science in the world tells us it is not wise to abandon masks at this time,” Guszak said. “We still have a pandemic in this country, and sometimes you have to have to give up a little to protect the greater good. Quit being a cry baby and wear a mask. It ain’t that bad.”
Some people, like senior Ellen Cleaton, believe that Abbott’s timing is poor and premature.
“I think Abbott’s timing for his choice to rescind his order is not the best, especially since we’ve had time to analyze Florida and their efforts to get rid of mask mandates and compare it with their skyrocketing death rates due to COVID,” Cleaton said. “I think keeping the masks is important since we are so close to having effective vaccine distribution around Texas. If we were to stop our efforts to keep the virus at bay, or whatever, this work will be for naught because the virus would continue to evolve as it is transmitted and would become resistant to the new vaccines.”
Junior Juliana Dwamena, however, has an opposite view of the matter.
“I think it is kind of ridiculous because it is going against the Constitution and the First Amendment, which is being able to have freedom of expression,” Dwamena said. “In all honesty, if it is not legally required then I don’t think we should have to wear them. It is up to the person. I feel like you should be able to wear it if you feel like it’s safe, but if you don’t want to wear it you shouldn’t have to.”
Dwamena is passionate about her country and the way it should run.
“During this whole COVID situation, you have literally seen the government just take away the rights of the people, whether it is choosing which businesses can stay open, or choosing literally what you wear and what you say and not letting doctors speak,” Dwamena said. “Us continuing to wear a mask is just continuing to basically let people control us. Even most of the teachers voted not to have it, so the fact that we don’t even have a good democracy going anymore because people say that words don’t matter is just another aspect that is not okay.”
This story was originally published on Badger Tracks on March 10, 2021.