Waco ISD prepares to ask board to eliminate mask mandate
School district kept face mask order despite lawsuit from Texas attorney general
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Face masks could soon be optional at the Waco Independent School District as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to fall in McLennan County.
The school district’s administration plans to formally ask permission from its board of trustees during a regular meeting scheduled for February 24.
“Our decision, at this point, is to ask to rescind that mask mandate effective on March 4 at 5 p.m.,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, the district’s superintendent.
Coronavirus cases are falling in the McLennan County area, and the district is no exception. Its COVID-19 dashboard recorded only seven cases throughout all campuses for the week.
“We would encourage the use of wearing masks but we want to give people the choice to make that decision at this point,” said Kincannon.
The decision to require masks in classrooms was made in August, during a prior surge, and remained in place as the omicron variant spread.
The district came back from the holiday season with 400 cases.
“The month of January was pretty hard on us, but things are improving at this point,” said Kincannon.
The district’s mask policy caught the attention of Texas’ Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit. Even with that, WISD did not budge.
“It has gone very well, despite the lawsuit,” said Kincannon. “Otherwise, things have been good here locally.”
The decision to require masks even gave some relief to some residents who had concerns about the virus in schools.
“It made it so that we felt much more comfortable sending our children back to school,” said Aaron Zimmerman, the rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco.
Zimmerman’s children were attending classes at Waco ISD virtual at the start of 2020, but have since returned.
He saw the district’s mask policy in a positive light.
“I don’t think you ever let your guard down completely, you make reasonable decisions based on the risk that is prevalent,” said Zimmerman.
Just as his own church weighs its mask policy, he said sometimes changes have to be made.
“I would say the concern is there, but it is probably a little bit less than it was before,” said Zimmerman.
And that change in the district is something people are eager for. Kincannon said she noticed the want to relieve the district of the policy through some recent interactions.
“I know they’re ready, so we’re pleased to take this resolution to the board next week,” said Kincannon.
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