Parents react to state-blocked public school district mask mandates

GA-38 bans any governmental entity from mandating masks, a continued polarizing issue of the pandemic
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It’s officially back to school season and hundreds of kids are getting ready to get back in the classroom. In contrast to last year, the state has now blocked districts from implementing their own mask mandate.

This as the delta variant continues to push an uptick in COVID cases across the state and in Lubbock County.

READ MORE: Health officials recommend return of masks as delta variant cases spike in Lubbock

It’s not a hard choice for Angela Scott to send her 10 and 11-year-old kids to the classroom without the old rules in place.

“While they did good with the masks last year, their biggest struggle was that they couldn’t hear or understand their teachers,” she said. “They couldn’t hear what a kid on the other side of the class was saying when they answered the teacher’s questions and so it made it very frustrating for them. They couldn’t even go outside and run around and take their masks off. They still had to wear them. They couldn’t talk to their friends during lunch,” Scott added.

She says she supports the governor’s decision that prevents public school districts from making masks mandatory, so her family can make that choice for themselves.

“We know it’s [COVID] a real thing. We’re taking it day by day, step by step,” she said.

For DeNae Cortez, it’s not so simple.

Her 11-year-old is immunocompromised and his district won’t be offering virtual learning this year.

“To say we’re uneasy is probably an understatement. We know that he needs to go back, it’s his first year in middle school. He’s definitely missed socializing but we’re nervous,” Cortez said.

As a working, single mother she says she doesn’t have the option financially to homeschool.

“We rely on public schools and public safety and we rely on everyone to be making those good choices,” she said.

“Things aren’t mandated, but that doesn’t mean they’re not recommended,” director of public health Katherine Wells said.

The delta variant has become a bigger concern for younger populations. She says transmission higher among children than it was last year.

“We’re seeing more kids, sicker than what we were seeing last year,” Wells added.

Another concern public health officials have is that most children in elementary school don’t qualify for a vaccine right now. Pfizer is only approved for ages 12 and up.

Wells says the earliest that may change is in October.

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