BURKBURNETT (KFDX/KJTL) — Burkburnett School Board officials say masks may be coming back to the classrooms temporarily.
But they say rising cases in the area and in local school districts is giving them much concern for students.
With the Texas Education Agency not enforcing Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, more than 50 school districts have.
While officials say COVID-19 cases are not a problem at schools in Burkburnett ISD, they are rising in Wichita County. This rise has Burkburnett school board officials contemplating bringing masks back for a limited time.
“Maybe if we give our parents a little boost, and we let them say to their kids, ‘they really want you to wear a mask,’ that gives our parents a little more ability to use that verbiage,” BISD School Board member Terry Klipp said.
“There may come a time in the not too distant future that if encouragement doesn’t work, we need to do something,” BISD School Board member Frank Andrajack said.
“I’m not overly inclined to support a mandate right now. Highly encourage, strongly encourage if that’s something that makes you feel comfortable,” BISD School Board Vice President Jimmy Beeson said.
Burkburnett ISD currently has more than 100 confirmed positive cases since school began and almost 200 staff and students in quarantine including 10 classroom teachers.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Owen says those numbers are not bad considering the more than 4,000 students and staff in the district.
“November last year is where our numbers really kind of hit a turning point for us. When you start to get to the point where you can’t accomplish your mission of educating students because you don’t have enough staff members, that’s when it starts to get very real for a school district,” Owen said.
If the district chooses to go through with a mandate, they would follow more than 50 school districts in Texas who have done the same.
But if a mask mandate does not come, board members want staff to be able to educate students safely.
“To strongly encourage people, especially those who are immunocompromised and things like that to consider masking. We strongly encourage that especially in our indoor educational spaces so that hopefully we don’t get to a point where it is a mandate,” Owen said.
Another school district looking to instruct future leaders of society during a pandemic.
Owen says the district will keep the topic on its agenda for future board meetings so the board can revisit the discussion.