TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After Governor Abbott announced the recent mandate lift, some East Texas schools weighed in on how they would handle the matter.
CHAPEL HILL ISD
Chapel Hill ISD in Tyler released a statement to their Facebook, saying they they ask everyone to continue to wear masks on school property and social distance.
“We know that COVID remains a threat in our community and we want to ensure we are all doing our part to minimize that threat to the best of our abilities,” the post said.
Longview ISD said schools will continue to wear face coverings and continue with other preventative measures at their campuses and facilities.
“Longview ISD will likely revisit this issue with our board each month, and possibly modify existing policies for the 2021-22 school year at some point this summer,” Superintendent James Wilcox said. “But for now, we’re going to finish this school year under the current protocols, and continue to make data-based decisions going forward.”
Lufkin ISD said their situation will be fluid as they get guidance from their local county, the UIL and the Texas Education Agency. As of this writing, Lufkin ISD will continue to operate under all current guidelines until next Wednesday and will released new information when they have it.
Nacogdoches ISD has also said they will require their students and staff to continue wearing masks at least until March 10. Like Lufkin ISD, Nacogdoches will be waiting for further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.
“NISD’s Spring Break is next week, and the district will provide further information for students, their parents and our staff. NISD will take every precaution possible and will continue to make the health and well-being of its students and staff the top priority,” they said in a Facebook post.
Tyler ISD sent a letter out to staff and families regarding Abbott’s announcement.
As the largest school system in the state to return to full in-school learning with at-home options available for medically attested students, our Return to Learn health and safety protocols have proven effective. We have successfully kept our doors open all year, giving our best efforts to accomplish our educational mission for successful student outcomes with an emphasis on attendance and safety for students, teachers, and staff.TISD announcement regarding the mask mandate
The district said that they must abide by the standard health protocols set by the Texas Education Agency and they are waiting on interpretation from TEA as they finish out the school year.
“As we have throughout this unique season, we will be reviewing what works for our school system and what is in the best interest of our staff, so that our students can experience in-person learning and complete this unique school year successfully,” a release from TISD said.
TYLER JUNIOR COLLEGE
Tyler Junior College officials decided to continue with their current health and safety COVID-19 protocols.
“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, TJC has been committed to framing policies and procedures that have followed guidance from the CDC and local health officials,” according to a statement from TJC. “The College’s priority remains protecting the health and safety of the TJC community while ensuring the uninterrupted education of our students.”
Van ISD issued a statement saying that they expect TEA and UIL to issue guidance for Texas schools soon and will keep their community informed regarding mask requirements in the district.
Whitehouse ISD said it will be working with the Texas Education Agency and NET Health as determines future action concerning a mask mandate. All Whitehouse schools are operating under current practices.
Marshall ISD said in a statement that it is waiting for guidance from the Texas Education Agency, local county and UIL officials on what the governor’s mask mandate means in terms of quarantine guidelines and restrictions, and close contact for exposure.
“We will continue to operate under the current protocols regarding face masks on our campuses until we get this guidance, and we will make decisions accordingly at that time,” the statement said.
On March 2, Governor Abbott announced he would rescind the mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions beginning Wednesday of next week.
In addition to removing the mandates, the governor broke down several numbers on vaccinations, saying that over 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered in Texas. The state had recently set a record on Tuesday giving over 216,000 shots in one day alone.
Last week in Corpus Christi, Abbott said statewide orders, including the mask mandate in place since July, could be removed “very soon.”
According to the Texas DSHS COVID-19 Dashboard, there have been nearly 2.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 42,995 deaths. There are currently 156,989 active cases.
In East Texas, the COVID-19 hospitalization percentages for both Trauma Service Area G and H are under 10%
TSA G is at 6.64%. TSA G contains:
Anderson, Camp, Cherokee, Franklin, Freestone, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Houston, Marion, Panola, Rains, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood counties.
TSA H is at 7.47%. TSA H contains:
Angelina, Nacogdoches, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto and Tyler counties.
TSA G went under the 15% mark on Jan. 29 and broke the 45 day streak.
Abbott explained that under the new order, a county judge may impose certain mitigation ordinances if COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions of Texas rise above 15% of bed capacity for seven straight days. But even if countywide recommendations are enacted, Abbott said residents will not be able to be jailed for refusing to follow county judge recommendations.
Moreover, even if hospital beds do rise above capacity for a week, businesses will still be able to operate at 50% capacity minimum.
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