By: Carter James
Since the arrival of COVID-19, it has caused many interruptions in the lives of everyone, and some individuals have even lost loved ones to the virus. After being in a pandemic for two years, many wonder when it will be safe to return to some form of normalcy and not have to wear masks anymore. There has been controversy over mask mandates across the nation, especially when it comes to schools.
Research shows that in person learning is beneficial for students, due to social interaction, building relationships with others, and being able to process and retain what they’re learning. The question that remains is how do you lift the mask mandate and keep students, faculty, and staff safe? Two Houston school districts have decided to lift their mandates, but with safety as their number one priority.
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) lifted their mask mandate on March 1st. According to HISD, the district “continues to monitor COVID-19 trends and consult local COVID-19 guidance…The district is relaxing its mask mandate within HISD schools, facilities, and school buses will become optional.”
In addition, the Aldine Independent School District (AISD) will no longer require their faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear face masks at any of their facilities or events. AISD plans to lift their mask mandate on March 7, “due to an ongoing decline in COVID-19 cases in the district, expanded vaccine eligibility for younger children, and updated guidance from the CDC, the state, and local health officials,” according to the Aldine ISD website.
Superintendent Dr. LaTonya Goffney stated, “We know we are not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic, but we have all the tools and procedures in place to ensure our students can continue to learn in a safe and healthy learning environment.” She further stated. “For the safety and wellbeing of our community, I still encourage everyone to wear masks and take precautions. I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated, to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.”
Both school districts are following safety protocol and have masks available for everyone by request. They also continue to provide opportunities for individuals to get vaccinated, and have free COVID-19 testing for their students and employees. You can visit their website for more information.