Pflugerville ISD board hears from public on both sides of mask mandate

The meeting room at the Pflugerville ISD Administration Building was at capacity during an Aug. 16 special meeting. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
The meeting room at the Pflugerville ISD Administration Building was at capacity during an Aug. 16 special meeting. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

The meeting room at the Pflugerville ISD Administration Building was at capacity during an Aug. 16 special meeting. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

The day after Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Doug Killian sent a letter to parents and staff informing them the district would implement a mask mandate, the board of trustees met for a special meeting to continue a discussion of mask-wearing.

People vehemently opposed to and in favor of a mask mandate within PfISD stood outside with signs and began filtering into the meeting room of the district's administration building well ahead of the Aug. 16 meeting's 5 p.m. start time.

People protesting a mask mandate from PfISD showed up to the district's administration building ahead of the school board's special meeting Aug. 16. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)

On Aug. 15, Killian told district staff and parents that it has always been the intent of PfISD officials to follow the law, regardless of what it dictated.

Killian said in his letter it was a district court decision from 345th District Court Judge Jan Soifer granting a temporary restraining order to block Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order prohibiting mask mandates in school for students and educators that prompted officials to reverse course from a previous decision not to mandate masks.

During the Aug. 16 special meeting, officials heard from speakers who are planted firmly on both sides of the issue.

Ashley Ramirez, who said she has children enrolled in PfISD, told the board she is opposed to a mask mandate.

Masks essentially hinder students in myriad ways when they are trying to learn, including making it difficult to hear and understand their teachers, Ramirez said.

Several attendees at the Aug. 16 meeting agreed with Ramirez, stating masks do not work and admonishing the board for not giving parents a choice.

However, many also spoke adamantly in favor of the mandate, citing a need to protect those in the community with health issues who are put further at risk by rising COVID-19 cases.

Attendee Anastasia Marston said she believes masks are a key way to help stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

"Politics is making this thing more fraught than it needs to be," she said. "The most I can do is ask you to please stand by your instincts. ... Do what it takes to protect the most students possible."

Attendee Jeffrey Moss said it is more important to follow scientists and doctors rather than those who are not experts in the matter.

Ultimately, whether speakers were in favor of or opposed to the mask mandate, there was no middle ground for the several people who spoke at the special meeting.

Following public comment, the PfISD board of trustees went into executive session to discuss options regarding lifting or continuing the mask mandate, but one district staff member said no action would be taken at the Aug. 16 meeting.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.


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