KATY, Texas — A group of Katy ISD parents were hoping to have their voices heard at district’s special board meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening about mask protocols in the district.
A local mom has spearheaded this effort, launching a petition. Lee Nelson created the petition that’s received more than 2,000 signatures, demanding families have a choice regarding their children’s safety. The petition asks the district to fight to put a mask mandate in place and add a virtual option for students.
In a statement to KHOU 11 on Tuesday, Katy ISD said masks will remain optional this school year, but "measures remain under constant review."
Nelson’s worried for two daughters, who attend Katy ISD -- 10-year-old Hope and 13-year-old Ashlee. Hope has asthma. Both aren’t eligible for the vaccine because of their age.
"The biggest thing for us is really the under-12 vaccine ineligible children," the mother added. "These children are going to be left completely unprotected and we’re at the height of the pandemic.”
Her daughter Hope says she does not want to end up hospitalized or worse.
"I don't want to end up very sick. I don't want to end up in the ER, and I definitely don't want to end up dead," Hope said.
Not everyone feels the same way as the Nelsons.
“I’m not with the masks," said Courtney Frank of Katy. "I think it instills a lot of fear with kids.”
Keeping face coverings optional is fine with Frank who believes many younger kids don’t properly wear them anyway.
“I noticed a little girl here earlier and she noticed some of the kids didn’t have masks on and she didn’t want to play with them, she was off to herself," said Frank at a Katy-area park. "So I just don’t think it’s normal." "I’ll never think it’s normal.”
The Nelson family considers protocols the new normal until the potential threat is over.
"Everybody wants to be mask-free, but we can't be until we put in the work," Nelson said.
Katy ISD has stated they would follow the CDC recommendations for the upcoming school year, which encourages masks be worn by children 12 and under. Parents are concerned about Gov. Greg Abbott’s current order, which put districts in a compromised position to enforce that.
The district was previously sued over its mask mandate.
Here's the district's full statement:
The District's priority is the health and safety of our students and staff. While Texas school districts cannot mandate masks this school year, as per the Governor’s executive order, face coverings will remain optional on all Katy ISD campuses and are highly recommended by the CDC. Our schools will also continue to provide personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer in classrooms and common areas, facial coverings if needed, as well as continue to review the need for, and implement other measures that best support the health, well-being and academic success of Katy ISD students.
LIVE Q&A TONIGHT
KHOU 11, your Education Station, will chat with several Houston-area superintendents about the school year, including what they're doing to keep students safe. Tonight at 7 p.m., Mia Gradney talks live to Spring Branch Superintendent Jennifer Blaine. You can watch live on our Facebook page, as well as KHOU.com, our mobile app and Roku and FireTV.