With the number of COVID-19 cases surging and North Texas pediatric ICU beds at capacity, more parents are calling on public school districts to mandate masks. There are also parents not in favor of masks, meanwhile, students are caught in the middle.
The argument over whether or not to mandate masks in schools is spreading across Tarrant County. Fort Worth ISD announced its mandate Tuesday night, but Friday a district court judge ruled that it did not supersede Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) executive order banning maks mandates. Still, more parents are stepping in and asking suburban school leaders to order masks in their schools, siding with medical professionals and not the governor.
"I feel like there's power in numbers. If more districts are doing this or county commissioners," Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD parent Jennifer Pennoyer said.
Parents said they were inspired by Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who said he was doing what he felt was right, not following a decree from the governor.
Following Hinojosa's lead and that of Richardson ISD mothers NBC 5 spoke to his week, the parents in Tarrant County said they're circulating a petition for their school leaders to follow Dallas ISD's lead.
"We're on day three of school and yesterday my sixth-grader already got an email regarding him. He's been directly exposed to someone that is positive," said Laura Fortner, an HEB ISD mother who works as a doula and is worried her kids will infect her, thereby putting her patients at possible risk.
Back to School
Several parents across Tarrant County said ignoring the governor's order was unfair and it's time for personal choice.
"That was the number one thing, 'Get vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask anymore.' We've done that, now it's, 'Oh no, just kidding we're changing our minds because this variant's getting out.' Honestly, the CDC doesn't know where this variant is coming from," said HEB ISD parent Donna Jacobs, who's against a mask mandate.
As school gets underway with differing rules on face coverings across North Texas, courts will likely weigh in on school districts' mask mandates and Abbott's executive order.