The Aledo ISD board of trustees heard from 13 people asking the district to either continue to enforce or remove the mask requirement at a special called meeting Thursday night.
The Aledo ISD board of trustees took no action on masks and said as of now, the policy that requires masks is still in place.
“We have not closed our doors due to COVID once. Not once have we had to close one school, one day, due to COVID-19, which is incredibly unique,” AISD Superintendent Susan Bohn said. “We are constantly reviewing recommendations and our protocols in an effort to do the best we can this school year in a very difficult situation to keep our schools open, to keep our staff operating at the highest levels and to keep our students learning at the highest levels.”
AISD student Jacob Robbins spoke in support of the mask requirement, saying his sister is immunocompromised and if she contracted the virus, would have a higher chance of death.
“In total, the death toll of Americans from COVID this past year is 527,000 lives. That is more than eight times the highest death count from the flu,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that me and my friends represent a silent majority out there who believe in masks and many of whom would be gravely affected personally if the mask requirement were lifted — myself included, or more accurately, my sister.”
McAnally Intermediate School teachers Leslie Leech, Khala Heart and Susan Crosby also spoke in support of masks.
“I think we can win this if we just stay the course. I think with mask wearing our students can stay safe and our staff can stay safe, so I urge you to take into consideration our staff,” Crosby said. ”When we think about herd immunity, I’m a math teacher so we know that that’s 83% to 94% — with COVID, they’ve reduced that to 70%. We’re not there yet, so let’s get there and then we’ll take the masks off.”
Chad Key, an AISD parent, said he’s not a fan of masks but does not think it is time to do away with them just yet. Jeff Streetman and Robert Cox — both of whom’s wives are teachers — also support the current mask requirement.
Community member Marvin Herring said he believes in masks.
“I don’t want to get the virus — at my age, I would go to the hospital and be dead,” he said. “I say one thing to the parents who say, ‘Oh, my children, they’re hurt by wearing a mask,’ it’s the parents that make them have problems by whining and whining about wearing a mask.
“We wear our mask and we get our shots, and we’ll make it through this.”
Meghan Lynd, a parent and registered nurse, spoke out against the requirement of masks.
“The No. 1 way to prevent the spread of infection is hand washing, that has been embedded in my brain since day one of nursing school,” she said. “Teaching kids proper hygiene is going to be a lot more effective than improperly and ineffectively wearing a mask.
“So much has been ripped from these kids, I think it’s time to at least give them the freedom to choose whether or not they want to cover their face.”
Monica Atwood was also against the mask requirement, Michael Deer was in favor of allowing students and staff to choose whether they wanted to or not as well as Jason Weaver.
“I was infuriated when I heard that Aledo ISD would be requiring face coverings to be worn by all students regardless of age. There’s no other school districts in our area that I’m aware of that also require kids of all ages to wear a mask,” Weaver said. “If the kids and their development are truly our No. 1 priority, my recommendation, for what it’s worth, is to make mask-wearing optional for all staff and all students regardless of age.”
Aledo High School student Brendan Rivers said his overall message in supporting the mask mandate and continuing to enforce it at AISD is that the risk is simply not worth it.
“My fellow high schoolers, Mr. Robbins spoke earlier, we all have immunocompromised people in our lives who were born with it. If you’re a creationist, then God gave them their immune system,” he said. “It is not their fault to be in the condition they’ve been placed in and it is not their fault that they would have to be forced into their homes again.”
Bohn said they are reviewing all feedback and encourage continued input on the topic.
“I want everyone in the community to know that we cannot do our jobs if you do not provide us feedback. I have read and shared with the board of trustees every piece of feedback and will continue to do so,” she said. “The trustees and I and the rest of the leadership in our district respect all voices in our community and will continue to have the practice of welcoming, listening and using it to make decisions.”