FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — A Fort Bend Independent School District parent said her fourth-grade daughter contracted COVID-19 after only three days in school and then infected her family, many of whom are vaccinated.
For Samina Quddos, the decision to send her third- and fourth-grade daughters to school for in-person learning was not an easy one.
“It was a very difficult decision to send them,” Samina Quddos said. “And now, looking back on what happened, I think it was the wrong one.”
Her youngest daughter has a history of pneumonia and spent several days in the ICU during her first case. That's why Quddos applied for FBISD’s limited virtual learning program for both of her kids. However, only one was accepted, meaning, either way, the youngest would be exposed.
So, Quddos sent both of her girls to Cornerstone Elementary with KN95 masks, face shields and personal barriers for their desks.
"They had as many precautions as I could offer them that the district couldn’t. They, thus far, have chosen not to offer any safety protection," Quddos said.
The girls were in school for three days when Quddos said she received messages from several parents of her fourth-grader’s classmates saying their children had tested positive for COVID-19.
Quddos said she knows of at least eight kids in her daughter’s class that tested positive.
“If there was one kid in my daughter’s classroom that had COVID, fine. But it is absolutely inexcusable that 40% to 50% of her classroom has COVID,” she said.
A couple of days later, her youngest got sick, too. Then, Quddos and her elderly father tested positive. Now, two more family members have COVID symptoms. Quddos said all the adults are vaccinated.
“They gave it to every member of my family. We are all suffering,” she said.
Quddos said she’s also concerned with the long-term impacts of the virus.
Currently, FBISD reports more than 3,000 total COVID-19 cases since the school year began; 31 current cases are reported at Cornerstone.
For weeks, many parents have been asking the district for mask mandates at the bare minimum. Quddos would also like to see improvements to air filters and social distancing.
FBISD’s board voted in favor of a mask mandate a couple of weeks into the school year, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. However, two days later, citing advice from legal counsel, the board reversed the decision and made masks optional again.
At the district board meetings, some parents have voiced their desire to keep masks optional, often citing it’s a personal decision and right.
“I believe in freedom and rights. It was one of the areas of passion for me when I started law school,” Quddos said. “But life first. The lives of our children and the health of our children first.”