Community divided: Hays parents debate masks in schools

By Megan Wehring 

HAYS CISD — The mask debate continued as more than 40 speakers showed up at the Hays CISD Board meeting Monday night. 

Only a minute was allotted to each speaker but that did not stop them from expressing their feelings which ranged from standing up for personal freedom to whether masks are effective or not. 

Parents who are health care professionals noted that because of the uptick in COVID-19 cases, it’s time for everyone to mask up to help slow the spread. 

“We are currently in the worst wave yet of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Nicole Taylor. “The number of pediatric COVID patients in Texas hospitals is higher right now than at any point in the pandemic. We know that the two most effective strategies in mitigating the risk are vaccines and masks.”

Some parents also said that they know what’s best for their children in the long run.

“Most of the time, children aren’t going to wear the mask right,” said parent Jennifer Allen. “They are going to tell you they are going to wear the mask and they don’t wear the mask. I feel like we need to have the choice.” 

Pulling children out of school was also brought up. 

“Unenrolled is the next step,” said Chelsea Collie. “I suggest that we stop fighting, start talking and finding common ground. I had to throw a fit at the last meeting just to get 30 people to stand up and say what they were going to share. … We will not comply. Get it through your head, with love, we will not take this anymore.”

Parents presented their thoughts for at least an hour. While Board President Vanessa Petrea laid out the rules to keep the room civil, some parents still received applause and cheering.

Hays CISD is still maintaining the same policy – that masks are optional but urged. 

“I know there are people on both sides,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright, “and the science can be argued one way or another. Just know that I think a lot of people are making a decision that is right for them.”

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About Author

Megan Wehring graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Wehring has reported for the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch for a year, covering all things local. This includes city council meetings, town events, education and human interest stories. Previously, Wehring worked at KTSW FM-89.9 (Texas State University's official radio station) for two consecutive years. She was a news reporter, assistant news director and monthly segment producer during her time at KTSW. Wehring is passionate about the local reporter aspect. With a heart for storytelling, she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are most important to the community.

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