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MFISD delays mask mandate until Sept. 8 board meeting, sends out parent survey

Marble Falls ISD delays mask mandate until Sept. 8 board meeting

Marble Falls Independent School District Superintendent Chris Allen handed out donuts at a parent-led protest in front of the administration offices on Colt Circle on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The parents voiced their complaints about a mask mandate on school campuses put in place by the Board of Trustees at an Aug. 30 meeting. The mandate took effect the day of the protest. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

UPDATE: Meeting will be held at the Marble Falls High School commons (front entrance), 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. 

Enforcement of a mask mandate on school campuses has been delayed until a 6 p.m. Sept. 8 meeting of the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees. Superintendent Chris Allen made the announcement at the close of business on Wednesday, Sept. 1. 

Also, the district posted a link to an online survey seeking feedback. It includes three “yes” or “no” questions and one comment section for ideas on how to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. MFISD recently shut down Highland Lakes Elementary in Granite Shoals because so many teachers were in quarantine due to positive tests. The survey allows only one vote per person.

The mask mandate was approved by school board trustees at a special meeting Aug. 30 and took effect on Sept. 1. The announcement on the moratorium came after about 150 parents gathered in front the administration building that morning to voice their opposition to the mandate. Allen and board members Alex Payson and Kevin Naumann were at the protest. Naumann spoke, telling the crowd to expect a response later that day. 

“We hear you,” he said. 

In his letter to the school community, he pleaded for civility and understanding. 

“The strongest way we can thrive as a community is for there to be a deep level of trust between us: school and child, child and parent, school and parent, school and community,” he wrote. “We hope that we can love and serve in a way that deepens this trust. Trust is built by listening to one another, getting to know each another, and ultimately caring about one another.”

Allen listed four reasons for putting the moratorium in place: 

  1. There have been objections raised about the mask mandate generally and the lack of opportunity for input more specifically. It is not uncommon for a group opposing a decision to make this claim; however, it seems to me and other members of District leadership that more could have and should have been done to glean various perspectives before addressing such a deeply divisive issue. A first (but not the only step) in this direction is a request that you complete the entirely anonymous survey found here.
  2. The District is committed to building community through these difficult issues. It is important to us that we do our part to maintain a strong sense of community. It is impossible to make everyone happy, but we will continue to try and have open lines of dialogue and treat everyone with respect.
  3. GA-38 (the Governor’s prohibition on mask mandates) is currently unenforceable because of a temporary injunction stemming from legal action out of Cameron County. There has been some unanticipated developments in that case which may cause the temporary injunction to lapse.
  4. There is currently a bill under consideration as part of the Texas Legislature’s Special Session that may heavily influence all of this discussion. 

The district’s survey asks the following three “yes” or “no” questions:

  1. Are you in favor of the current MFISD policy that requires students and staff to wear masks?
  2. Are you in favor of a policy that would allow parents to opt out unconditionally? 
  3. Are you in favor of masks being completely optional?

It then asks the following open-ended question: What ideas aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, other than masks, would you suggest the District consider? 

In his letter to the community, Naumann acknowledged that the road ahead would not be easy and would take work. 

“It will be uncomfortable at times,” he said. “It will be easiest to slip back into how the rest of the world treats one another, but I believe in us. We have some real challenges to tackle; and quickly. The most looming is the health and safety of our staff and students. Would you take the first step with us by participating in the collection of feedback Dr. Allen will be releasing in his letter?”

suzanne@thepicayune.com

15 thoughts on “MFISD delays mask mandate until Sept. 8 board meeting, sends out parent survey

  1. How can an amateur survey like this have a valid sample? People taking it do not represent the entire population, just those motivated to weigh in.

  2. First, yes the meeting should have been pre-announced just like the emergency meeting to cancel masks at the end of the school year last year with 5 days of school remaining should have also been announced.

    The truth is that this school year should have begun with masks in place due to the current delta variant crisis, but that would have been very difficult to pass in this environment.

    At this point in Texas some teachers have died from the delta variant spread and I pray this doesn’t happen to another teacher or parent.

    The board tried to do the right thing to avoid school closures and sickness, but this wave is probably too far along at this point. Informally from the families I know, I suspect 75% of the HS has been infected.

    We may end up going to school into June to make up the missed days.

    The scary part about this whole situation in America is that we have given our enemies a blueprint on how to destroy us and inflict massive death and economic hardship upon us. If another more dangerous virus is released it will impact Americans more than our enemies because of our freedom and pride.

    I hate wearing a mask as much as anyone, but to try and claim this is the government trying to take your freedom is absurd.

    Love your neighbors, do your part to protect them. Show grace to our board and administration who are trying to do everything they can to help and serve our great community.

    Lastly, of course masks help to slow the spread when worn by those that are sick and those that are not. There is data all over the world on this topic. This is the most well researched virus in the history of earth. If you google or Facebook hard enough you can find someone to disagree with the science though.

  3. If you see the misspelling on those kids purple shirts, you’ll know home schooling is not an option for them.

  4. There is no settled science on this virus other than the Wuhan lab as the source. This is easily verifiable if you want to seek the information. Remember Fauci saying one mask, no mask, two mask and then maybe three. Flatten the curve with no actual date on when the “curve” started, making the statement ridiculous. The link below will help you with the pcr tests.

    https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-covid-19-and-medical-devices/sars-cov-2-reference-panel-comparative-data

    If you dig through all of this you will find the below quote:

    “During the early months of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, clinical specimens [of the virus] were not readily available to developers of IVDs [in vitro diagnostics] to detect SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, the FDA authorized IVDs based on available data from contrived samples generated from a range of SARS-CoV-2 material sources (for example, gene specific RNA, synthetic RNA, or whole genome viral RNA) for analytical and clinical performance evaluation. While validation using these contrived specimens provided a measure of confidence in test performance at the beginning of the pandemic, it is not feasible to precisely compare the performance of various tests that used contrived specimens because each test validated performance using samples derived from different gene specific, synthetic, or genomic nucleic acid sources”.

    The truth is they did not have the viral material to produce a testing system, so therefore the tests we have all been taking have no real validity.

    So I ask again, as I could continue with so much more, where is the settled science? There is plenty of harm in continuing the unhealthy masking.

  5. Here are the ‘facts’ (based on the county’s current population of 48,155):

    Confirmed Cases – 5,510*
    Fatalities – 83*
    Active Cases (Estimated) – 553*
    Recovered (Estimated) – 5,681*

    Total avg death rate: 0.001723600872183%
    Total avg current recovery rate: 80.4%
    Total avg current active case rate: 9.6%

    Highest threat vector by age group: 20-59*

    (All stats provided by the daily State of Texas COVID Dashboard. To learn more go to): https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83

    As a comparison, according to the county’s most up-to-date statistics relating to death due to kidney disease: 34.7%

    Consequently, the current ‘surge’ doesn’t seem to be much of a ‘surge’ at all when health threats are considered in the aggregate. Therefore, it would seem that; a) kids in the MFISD are as safe as they can be without trying to asphyxiate them during homeroom; and b) successful management is driven by common sense, supported by prudent risk management, instead of watching their parents freaking out because the CDC, NIH or Fauci prattles on on CNN. Remember, all decisions are local, we are Texans, we’ve seen worse threats, and we’ll overcome this one too. Let’s just not mess up our kids, while ‘adults’ are behaving more like children.

    1. I think you need to double check your math or show your work, because it does not check out.

      For Texas overall:
      55,955 deaths / 3,039,912 (confirmed cases) = 0.018 = 1.8%

      Now that is probably a bit high to some degree due to not all cases being confirmed, but 1.8% is a very high figure for a communicable disease! (Note: your comparison to kidney disease also does not hold water, as it’s not something one transmits to other people very readily)

      In comparison, skydiving has a death rate of 0.00039% (0.39 deaths per 100,000 jumps in 2020). So COVID-19 has a death rate that is as much as 4,615X higher than skydiving, but I don’t see everyone lining up to jump out of a plane.

  6. There is a deep distrust of the people making major decisions for us from the federal government on down.
    Masking may help, but if it is not consistent in all places, school, movies, parties, the football field, band concerts-do you see the slippery slope?
    Vaccines are not the answer now that we know as a vaccinated person you can still get the virus as well as pass it along.
    These mandates will turn into an open ended issue, getting more restrictive and intrusive as we go.
    The one thing that is working-fear mongering. I am not interested in teaching my grandchildren that fear can control every movement in your life.

  7. I don’t see schools shutting down when kids get the flu at the beginning of the school year…… My kids are grown but I have two granddaughters and i believe kids should be kids, play outside and not be lead to be scared of some virus that has less than a .01% death rate. More people / kids die from the flu every year.
    Eventually everyone will end up with it. WHY DON’T SCHOOLS TEACH PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND PROPER EATING!!! It saddens me when I drive by McDonalds in the morning and the line of cars waiting to eat “that” food is sickening. Teach kids healthy habits and go outside and play!!
    Quit being afraid and making the kids scared to be a kid. NO MASK PEOPLE People should be in control of their own lives and children not the school system or the government

  8. Let’s hand out donuts during a pandemic where 78% of ICU patients are obese. Seems to be a good message. Here eat this sugar covered bread. Also the one commenting about following science, yes let’s please do that, like the scientific study that shows that wearing a mask causes children to breathe in 6x the amount of carbon dioxide deemed unhealthy due to breathing back in their own breath.

  9. This shows me that there is a significant leadership vacuum in Marble Falls. Make a decision based on facts and stick to it – even when it’s difficult. Wavering back and forth makes it difficult for everyone. Trust in the science and make decisions based on the advice of professionals, not those who are neck deep in misinformation and conspiracy theories.

      1. I agree with the other comments here. Just do what’s best for the kids, teachers, and school personnel. Of course some parents won’t like it because they don’t believe the facts, even while we are having another surge of infections here.

        1. Facts?
          What actual facts based on scientific study have been presented? The scientific method DEMANDS we challenge results of so called facts. If you want to wear a mask wear one. Me not using an umbrella in the rain is not going to get you wet if you are.

          1. Steve, the purpose of the mask you and I wear in public (the cloth mask or a surgical mask) is mainly to prevent you and me from accidentally spreading a virus we may have. It’s not to keep you and me safe, unless it’s an N95 mask. The umbrella analogy might be a good one if we were speaking about N95 masks that people wear so they won’t get infected. But I think the schools are simply saying that it would help (not perfectly, for sure) protect vulnerable people if possibly infected people wore masks indoors and when around others. You’re so right, though, about science needing to be challenged all the time. This is a really wise strategy to take, I agree.

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