Parents follow mask mandate debate closely as students head back to the classroom

Monday is first day for 17 school districts, including NEISD; parents weigh in on children’s safety

SAN ANTONIO – “It’s scary, real scary,” Emily Cruz said, explaining how she feels about her children returning to school in person without a mask mandate.

Monday kicked off a new school year for the North East Independent School district and while district officials say they are being cautious due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, parents are continuing to follow the mask mandate debate closely.

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Cruz has a kindergartner and first grader starting at NEISD’s Serna Elementary school. She said she wishes that the mask mandate was still in place, because it gave her peace of mind while her children attended school last year.

”I’m kind of iffy about it,” Cruz said. “Because I know there are more students, because I know this year there is no virtual at all. So it’s all kind of scary.”

Another parent, Destiny Pierson, said she kept her daughter Emily at home for her entire first year of elementary school.

Emily on Monday stepped into Serna Elementary for the first time to start first grade. Her mom Pierson is nervous about masks not being mandatory.

”I feel a little bit overwhelmed,” Pierson said. “A little bit I think are we are ready for her to go back, but is she going to keep her mask on? Is she going to do the things she needs to do?” Pierson asked.

That question is why Pierson said she has been working with her daughter for a full year, having her practice wearing her mask for long periods of time.

”And we even put an extra one in her backpack, so she has the one right here and on her face,” Pierson said.

NEISD superintendent Dr. Sean Maika in a message sent Friday, said they are strongly encouraging all students and staff to wear masks on district campuses. It won’t be required, however.

Principal of Serna Elementary Jennifer Lomas said she believes students at the school are safe with the majority of them choosing to wear a mask.

”We are absolutely encourage mask wearing, and we are going to model it,” Lomas said. “But at the end of the day we want the stronger message to be we are excited for you to be here. We want you to have a good first day.”


About the Authors

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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