Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include more context from Klein ISD’s April 12 board of trustees meeting. It includes an emailed statement from the district as well as additional comments from parents who, at the meeting, voiced their opposition to the district’s mask policy. The article has also been updated to clarify, that in her comments April 12, Superintendent Jenny McGown was not referencing public comments from community members but instead speaking generally about the board.
Maskless parents decried the Klein ISD mask mandate as taking their rights as parents away. At the KISD board of trustees’ April 12 meeting, a group of nine parents and citizens criticized the ongoing mask mandate for students and staff.
In a March 9 press release, KISD stated masks will be required for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year following statements from Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency. KISD’s mask policy mirrors that of most other local school districts that chose to extend the mask requirement through the end of the school year, including Spring, Cy-Fair, Tomball, Conroe, Aldine, Crosby and Sheldon ISDs.
The community members said their own children have suffered emotionally, developmentally and academically during the pandemic and said the masks exacerbated the effects.
"There was very little risk of them [students] spreading infection," KISD parent Jennifer Martin said. "They thrive on interaction with their teachers and their fellow classmates."
Meanwhile, KISD parent Jeff Davies suggested the district make masks optional, not required.
"Don't make it that you can't wear masks, just that if you want to [wear it], do it," Davies said during the meeting. "But we're not going to tell you that we have to."
Several parents said their students saw teachers and staff not wearing masks every day, and one referenced a recent event where Superintendent Jenny McGown was photographed not wearing a mask.
“Everyone should have the right to make their own choices, and I support being able to make your own choices, but I don't support any hypocrisy,” Priscilla Lashley, a KISD parent, said during the meeting.
The board did not discuss the face mask policy during the April 12 meeting. However, KISD officials provided an emailed statement about its health and safety protocols on April 13.
“Our COVID-19 safety protocols have made it possible for Klein ISD to keep all campuses open, our extracurricular programs competing and representing our schools, and minimized the number of students and staff being required to quarantine at home whenever there is a positive COVID-19 case,” the district's statement read. “With the end of the school year in sight, we will continue to focus on educating our students, maintaining a safe teaching and learning environment, and securing opportunities for our employees to get vaccinated now that all educators are eligible for the vaccine.”
In her closing statements at the meeting, McGown thanked the board of trustees for their commitment to the KISD community.
“I appreciate the way that you [the board of trustees] all model for our community what it looks like to have healthy debate, what it’s like for us to be respectful and what it looks like to continue to assume positive intent," she said.