TEXARKANA, Texas (KSLA) - On Tuesday, March 2, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott announced a plan to do away with mask mandates that were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic; he’s also allowing businesses to return to 100% occupancy. But how will this decision affect public schools?
“We have implemented as many protocols as we can and I think we have done a fairly good job,” said Autumn Thomas, deputy superintendent of the Texarkana Independent School District (TISD).
As of now, students in the TISD continue to follow COVID-19 mandates set by the state, including the wearing of face masks. School leaders say it has been a challenge, but they feel the mandate has helped to keep students and staff as safe as possible. However, this approach could change following Gov. Abbott’s decision to cancel state-issued mandates related to COVID-19. How this decision will affect schools is still up in the air.
“Right now, we are waiting on TEA on what directions they are going to give schools based on those new guidelines that came out this week, and so we will know soon enough and from that we will make protocol. We will either keep the ones that we have or make some changes,” said Thomas.
Parents have mixed feelings about possible changes. Due to special medical issues, Rachel Swaty has selected to teach her child at home, but says the district is already doing a good job when it comes to student safety.
“I think it is good for everybody to get back and interactive with everybody. I don’t like everybody being separated, but I think everybody just need to use precautions,” Swaty said.
Brandon Charles also has children attending a school in the TISD.
“My only concern is them wearing a mask. If you are going to continue to let them wear a mask, I don’t see why not to open up any type of restaurant, school, or any other type of business,” Charles said.
Schools are expected to receive directions from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) before the end of the week. The lifting of the governor’s mandates goes into effect Wednesday, March 10.
“Our primary focus is to keep our students and staff as safe as possible,” Thomas said.
Some educators KSLA spoke with are still questioning why restrictions on schools are being lifted when the COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been made available to Texas teachers.