LISD Board to review mask mandate


Cristina Orozco

Divisions between students who choose to mask and who don’t are evident in the halls.

Isabel Young, Editor

The LISD Board of Trustees will meet tomorrow to discuss extending the mask mandate. Currently, the mandate is only in place until Friday, and board members plan to take the opinions of students, parents, and teachers into consideration when making their final decision.

“I definitely think they should keep the masks,” junior Bailey Niles said. “It’s about keeping everyone else safe, not just yourself. And if people really don’t like it, there’s still the opt-out form.”

The opt-out option was hotly debated amongst the LISD community. While some felt the choice negated any positive effects of the mandate, others, such as junior Lauren Nash, thought it was an apt solution.

“If masks didn’t work before, why force everyone to wear them now?” Nash said. “Everyone should be able to make the choice for themselves. I don’t think it’s fair to force everyone to wear a mask if they don’t believe in it.”

Last year, the absence of the opt-out form led some parents to be hesitant to allow their children to return to in-person learning. An April petition garnered over 1,600 signatures in support of allowing families a choice. Conversely, this school year, a petition arguing for the imposition of a mandate earned over 3,000 signatures and was a major contributing factor to the August decision.

If parents could have stopped any one of the many school shootings in the United States with several weeks’ notice, there is no doubt we would have,” parent Patricia Avitia said in the petition. “We have had several weeks’ notice about [the delta variant], and yet our leaders have chosen inaction.”

The introduction of the mandate and opt-out, rather than alleviating tensions, only furthered the divide, to the point where principal Charlie Little sent out a public letter appealing to some of the more outspoken members of the community.

“People are so angry now, when it really should just be about making the right choice for you,” Nash said. “My family is vaccinated, we’re being safe, we just don’t think masks are the solution.”

Both sides of the debate seem to agree that the issue has caused excessive division at school, adding to a pressure that has been building in the past year and a half of uncertainty.

“It shouldn’t be a political issue,” Niles said. “Everyone is already so divided these days, it’s like they want to disagree about everything. Public health shouldn’t be a debate. I hope the Board can figure this out.”