Allen ISD Parents Disagree Over Virtual Learning, Mask Options

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Two days before the semester is set to start, dozens of parents packed a school board workshop in Allen to ask for changes to the upcoming school year's COVID-19 protocols.

Many urged district leaders to allow virtual learning. As of Monday, Allen ISD is only offering in-person learning.

Parents also asked the district to impose a mask mandate on campuses, similar to what Dallas ISD announced Monday. Like almost every district in North Texas, masks are optional in Allen schools.

In May, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning school districts from requiring masks. Dallas ISD did so in defiance of the order.

The state also sharply reduced its funding for virtual learning for the upcoming school year.

"Whatever they decided to do for this year was based on what happened in June and July when there was a spike. Right now, there is a spike and we need to make sure that we adjust to that," Allen ISD parent Kashif Ahmed said.

Not everyone at the meeting asked for change.

Some parents encouraged the Allen school board to stay the course by offering only in-person learning and making masks optional.

"We're just so grateful that they are following our governor's executive order. They are doing everything humanly possible to keep our children safe," Allen ISD parent Sam Abiog said.

Across Allen, Monday was Meet the Teacher night at elementary schools.

Nathan Garcia, a parent in Allen ISD, said he grew even more concerned after he saw his son's classroom and school. He said he saw few teachers wearing masks and that his son would be sitting inches away from other students with no dividers.

"It leaves me with a hard choice to make because my son is -- he’s excited to go back to school," Garcia said. "He doesn’t want to do this either so now we have to weigh the option of withdrawing him from public school."

In a statement, an Allen ISD representative wrote:

"Students’ needs are best met at the campus with trained teachers and staff. Allen ISD is excited to welcome all students back to campus for learning this fall to promote their academic, social, and emotional needs.

Allen ISD values the feedback we have received from our community and have updated several of our health and safety protocols in response. This includes updating lunchroom procedures to allow for greater social distancing, notifying parents of a lab-confirmed positive case(s) in a classroom or at a campus, and publishing a weekly dashboard with positive COVID-19 cases at each campus. Face masks will continue to remain optional as we enter the new school year, and we will ensure that students who choose to wear a face covering feel welcome inside of our campuses. 

Allen ISD will also continue to provide our school facilities to local health officials to help anyone eligible and willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes providing space at a middle school this month, and at Eagle Stadium this spring for more than three months to the Allen Fire Department for a drive-through clinic that administered more than 92,000 doses of the vaccine. According to local health officials, 83 percent of Allen citizens aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the highest percentage in Collin County, as well as the lowest city positivity rate in the county."

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