MAGNOLIA, Texas — On the outskirts of Houston, passionate parents packed into Magnolia ISD’s board meeting, ready for a referendum on masks.
Monday night the board voted to remove the mask mandate for teachers and students, effective April 1, to give teachers the chance to get vaccinated.
“My daughter had to be pulled out in November because she was under 10 and our school district decided to force it on all of the kids," said Ashlee Gonzalez-Rios, a 2nd-grade parent.
She didn’t want her daughter to be forced to wear a mask but says her decision to homeschool her 2nd grader has kept her from being able to work.
“My thing is the psychological effect it’s going to have on them, also for all of us. It just doesn’t make sense to cover our faces and not be able to breath," said Gonzalez-Rios. "We have the authority to say, we don’t feel good, we feel hot, little kids going to school don’t have that authority."
“This is certainly the first one that I’ve heard of," said Zeph Capo, President of The Texas American Federation of Teachers.
He believes masks have been the reason we have seen so few cases in schools.
“The decision to take away the masks likely means schools will become sites of higher transmission of the virus," said Capo.
All nine community members who addressed the board spoke against the masks. Overwhelmingly, they said it should not be required, it should be the parent’s choice.
“Whatever day they do, I would love to take her back, she cried when she found out it was a possibility," said Gonzalez-Rios.
The board surveyed teachers and said 52 percent were in favor of removing masks, 48 percent wanted them to stay.
They also asked them in the survey if they would be in favor of removing masks after they had the chance to get vaccinated and 70 percent of teachers said they would feel comfortable once they had the vaccine.