I wrote this ahead of a meeting on 8/10/2021 at which the board of trustees intended to consider a mask mandate for schools. They have since made it clear they have no intention of requiring masks, even as a huge unvaccinated population returns to in-person classes amid the Delta variant surge. The image above is a text message I received during the meeting about a comment from board member Mia Price, reported on here by the Denton Record-Chronicle.
I write today to implore you, both individually and as a governing body, to mandate universal masking at Denton ISD schools and facilities. Current pandemic conditions in Denton and the Delta variant make it incredibly dangerous to force large unvaccinated communities into enclosed spaces; doing so with children, the majority of whom are not yet allowed to be vaccinated, is willful and reckless endangerment.
Mandating masks won't mitigate all of the risks children will face as schools open, but it will absolutely mitigate some of the risks. Also, unlike making it possible for kids under 12 to get vaccinated or significantly upgrading the ventilation systems in all DISD schools by Thursday morning, a mask mandate is something you can immediately do.
You have the power to make a real difference. You can act today and prevent unnecessary infections, long illnesses, and deaths of children in the weeks ahead.
I understand that this will come with a cost to you, politically and professionally, due to Governor Abbott's Executive Order GA 36. I understand that you will incur personal costs as well, in the face of potential harassment from people who are bound and determined to ignore science and fact in favor of scoring political points on people just trying to do their jobs. I am sorry other elected officials have put you in this position, but they did, and now you must act.
Governor Abbott's directives to ban mask mandates and cut funding for remote school are free of logic, are clearly based on politics, and will absolutely result in children having to bury their friends. His actions will certainly result in some children suffering long and lingering illnesses. His actions will make wreckage out of the lives of many children, families, teachers, and staff in DISD. I am sorry he abdicated his responsibility and invited this fight for craven political purposes, but he did. Now it is down to you. You are the last line of defense for children and families who have no other options.
Follow the example of your counterparts in Dallas and Austin. Do what you can -- everything you can, and in this case, the very least that you can -- to protect the children in your charge.