WACO, Texas – Masks will now be a requirement for anyone in a Waco Independent School District building.
Positive cases are spreading within the first week of school, and district leaders say this leaves them with no choice.
Waco ISD started school last Monday – and on Friday, there are more than 100 cases reported on campus according to the dashboard. This spurred Waco Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon to require the wearing of masks in school buildings.
“I did not make this decision lightly. I have been out on our campuses, and looking in our classrooms, and seeing how we’re doing with the use of masks,” Kincannon said. “I’ve been really heartened by all of the staff and the students who have been wearing a mask, but it has not by any means been on all of our students.”
Dr. Kincannon says the local number of COVID cases and hospitalizations also contributed to her decision to enforce a mask mandate.
“That decision comes with a lot of thinking about multiple factors, and really, focused on the kids and trying to stop the spread of the virus in our schools and in our community,” Kincannon said.
When the school district announced the change in a Facebook post, the decision was met with a lot of support from parents.
Some saying, “Thank you for doing the right thing, even when it’s unpopular”, and many parents expressing their thanks to the school board for this small step that they say makes a big difference.
“I want to thank our parents and our staff, our students for honoring this mask mandate, and wearing masks on our campuses,” Kincannon said. “We want to do it for each other.”
Dr. Kincannon says masks do prevent the spread of the virus, and they want to do their part.
FOX44 reached out to Killeen ISD, Midway ISD, and Temple ISD – who have not enforced a mask mandate, but strongly encourage the wearing of them.
Gov. Abbott’s office responded to our request for an interview about Waco ISD’s mask mandate with the following statement:
“We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the Governor’s executive orders—and violating parental rights—is not the way to do it. Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for mask mandates is over; now is the time for personal responsibility. Parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not, just as with any other decision in their child’s life. Governor Abbott has spent his entire time in office fighting for the rights and freedoms of all Texans, and our office continues working with the Office of the Attorney General to do just that. The best defense against this virus is the COVID vaccines, and we continue to strongly encourage all eligible Texans to get vaccinated.”Renae Eze, Gov. Abbott Press Secretary