Parents Jennifer Walker, David Gauthier and Alex Campo urged board members at the April 19 meeting to lift the mask mandate due the negative effects it has on their children.
“Children need to be able to read and interpret facial cues to learn and develop appropriately,” Walker said. “Mask wearing in children reduces their ability to learn from audio and visual stimuli and negatively impacts speech language and cognitive development, emotional regulation and social interactions all because they cannot read information displayed through facial cues.”
Gauthier called the board members hypocrites for not wearing their masks where they sat, saying it was a luxury his kids did not have. He then pointed out the GISD disciplinary code.
“I should bring up the conflicts with GISD’s disciplinary code that explicitly forbid putting a mask on a student’s face,” he said. “So, it’s forbidden to muzzle kids who are in trouble but it’s okay to muzzle up kids while they are being good. I don’t get it.”
Campo urged the board members to remove the mandate or GISD parents would have no choice but to take their children and the funding they provide the district.
The board did not respond to comments, but earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Fred Brent provided an update as to why GISD is still implementing the mask mandate.
He listed the following as to why the mask mandate was still in place, including how:
- vaccines have now been widely available for students yet;
- staff report feeling safer with masking requirements;
- herd immunity has not yet been reached;
- COVID-19 cases are still appearing on campuses; and
- there has been a slight increase in coronavirus cases, most likely due to spring break.
“[Face masks is] one of those topics has been pretty divisive to degree, but what we do know is that we feel like to get through the other side of this pandemic, we feel like it’s the most appropriate recommendations stay the course,” Brent said. “By leaving [protocols] in place we feel like it allows us to have more consistent academic structure for the remainder of the year.”