Education

Masks No More: Carroll and Allen School Districts Vote to Ditch COVID-19 Mask Mandates

Some North Texas districts are pushing to lift mask mandates in schools.
Some North Texas districts are pushing to lift mask mandates in schools. Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash
Certain North Texas school districts are beginning to lift their mask mandates, prompting cheers from some parents and jeers from others.

At a meeting earlier this week, Carroll ISD’s school board voted to uphold its mask mandate until June 1, after the school year ends, according to The Dallas Morning News. But some parents were upset, saying that date isn't soon enough. Rather, they demanded that officials revoke the district-wide mandate immediately.

Outside the meeting, parents carried signs to show their discontent, some of which depicted the words “I can’t breathe,” according to the article.

“I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry for supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. Those were the last words uttered by George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police in May 2020. They were also the last words of Eric Garner, a Black man who in 2014 was suffocated to death by a New York City officer.

Tensions were high inside the Carroll ISD meeting, where several parents spoke to demand that the board scrap the mask mandate immediately, according to FOX 4 News. One mom said face coverings have caused district students psychological and emotional damage.

“These girls are sitting in the bathroom stalls eating their sandwiches with a side order of E. coli.” – Carroll ISD mom

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“The true crisis is the depression and the anxiety from this COVID protocol,” she said, before criticizing the district’s COVID-19 lunch restrictions and protocols.

“These girls are sitting in the bathroom stalls eating their sandwiches with a side order of E. coli," she continued.

Earlier this week, Allen ISD also announced that starting July 1, mask-wearing will be optional for staff and students, according to The News. Superintendent Robin Bullock credited the decision to “improved conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic” and also cited the community’s low transmission rate.

During the next school year, the district will no longer offer a virtual learning option.

When Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate in March, businesses were left to decide whether they would continue with a mask requirement. School districts faced the same dilemma after the Texas Education Agency issued guidance allowing local school boards to choose for themselves whether to uphold districtwide mandates.

Shortly after Abbott’s announcement, officials with Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth ISDs declared their districts would leave their respective mask mandates in effect.

Many schools pivoted to online learning once the pandemic hit, but doing so appeared to inflict emotional harm on some students. Suicide rates spiked among kids nationwide, prompting certain school districts such as Frisco ISD to begin monitoring remote learners in an attempt to prevent self-harm.

In a statement, Frisco ISD announced it has been working to create a full-time virtual learning school for students starting in the 2021-22 school year. Classes would be offered for kids in the third to 12th grades, and courses are slated to meet graduation and grade-level course requirements.

One bill in the state Legislature would allow districts and school charters to introduce local remote learning programs so long as they are synchronous.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter