SAN ANTONIO – In KSAT’s Classroom Confessionals parents, educators and students have shared their thoughts on returning to in-classroom learning for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Nearly 700 submissions by KSAT readers have given insight into the thoughts of locals as COVID-19 cases surge, mask mandates get thrown out and reinstated and legal battles between politicians ramp up.
COVID-19 outbreaks have already temporarily shut down several school districts in Texas and San Antonio districts have continued to modify health protocols as state and local politicians play political tug-of-war with mask policies.
The great mask debate has caused some confusion in recent weeks and rightfully so - even districts are having a hard time determining which next steps to take and some have waffled on their policies.
Here’s a small breakdown - Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on June 5 that prohibited school districts, among others, from mandating masks. He followed this with another executive order on July 29, which further removed local governments’ abilities to enact policies like requiring people to wear masks.
Then on Aug. 10, Bexar County Civil District Court Judge Toni Arteaga issuing a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s order and allowing Bexar County Health Authority to issue a health directive, allowing public schools to require masks.
This was followed on Aug. 15, by the Texas Supreme Court ruling in favor of Abbott’s executive order and once again banning mask mandates in Bexar County. Then one day later on Aug. 16, Arteaga again ruled in favor of Bexar County. Arteaga’s ruling granted a temporary injunction that prevents the enforcement of Abbott’s executive order. This was possible because the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling allowed for the injunction hearings to continue.
Abbott and Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton are expected to appeal Arteaga’s decision.
Due to the on-again, off-again mask scenario, several San Antonio school districts are requiring masks while others are only encouraging mask-wearing. You can find links to San Antonio-area school district’s COVID-19 plans here.
Please note that the viewer responses to the Classroom Confessional prompt which have been published below were submitted before court rulings on Aug. 15 and Aug. 16. The responses have not been altered in any way.
There are still more responses to share and if you want to weigh in, you can do so below in the prompt at the end of the article. Your comment could be published in the next Classroom Confessional.
You can find more background information about where things stand currently and the latest education news in our back-to-school section.
I have a 4 year old who was excited about going to school this year, unfortunately I won’t be enrolling her because I am not going to allow my child to experience school in this way. Wearing a mask all day for a 4 year old is torture. She can’t even keep it on in HEB let alone hours in school.Pauline
Our governor is a poor excuse for a leader! He threatens to bring down the hammer, so to speak, if local governments establish mask mandates again but then turns around and asks for federal aid to fight COVID. He’s part of the problem, he needs to get out of the way!!Kelly
I believe kids should go back to school I look around when up and about around stores and see a lot of kids with out mask but those are the same parents that want kids to learn from home and mandate mask which is ok but it should b by choiceAnonymous
Our Governor signs into law some of the nation’s strictest laws regarding a women’s ENTIRE BODY & her reproductive choices,but when it comes to the GENERAL PUBLIC’S HEALTH during a global pandemic,he promotes & enforces mask bans for people because, “They have the individual right & responsibility..Che
My son is in NEISD and starts 6th grade on the 16th. I am livid that, as parents, our hands are tied. There is no mask mandate and there is no option for virtual schooling. Where are our options!? Safety and health is not a political statement. Do better NEISDAutumn
Kids will touch their face more if they have mask on. I want my child to go to school where he is not forced to wear a mask all day it will creat a high anxiety situation for my toddler.Nona
I’m pulling my 2 elementary school children out of public school. Private options are not affordable. Optional masks, no health screening, no social distancing no contact tracing. I will not risk the health of my kids. Subject them to bullying and peer pressure. Playing politics with health, tragicHeather
I think it should be a choice NOT FORCED. If you want to wear the mask then do so don’t force everyone that is NOT FREEDOMFrank
Everyone still forgets the #1 issue and Ron and Wolf never talk about it. 60% of Hispanic adults in Bexar are unvaxed. Their messaging is poor and inconsistent, get those people vaxed.Scott
As a mother of two school age children. I think it’s quite hypocritical of the Governor Abbott to request out of state assistance. Yet, he is not taking into account that children under 12 are not yet vaccinated. Last I heard he was a governor, not a doctor. Listen to medical professionals for once!Gladys
As a parent I should be allowed how I handle my child’s and my own healthcare. We should not be dictated by the government. The vaccine has proven it DOES NOT prevent you from getting COVID…it’s not going away folks. You and you alone are responsible for your own health.Kristine
There is no doubt in my mind that sending my kids to school this year is more dangerous than last year. I have a 6 year older and a 9 year older both are not eligible to get the vaccine. I feel like I’m sending my kids out in the battleground hoping they come back without Covid every single day.Avneet
My last school district never properly enforced safety protocols in the first place. Teachers were bullied for having concerns about their safety and well-being. Optics was all that mattered. This year is just as dangerous - context clues, kids.Anonymous
I’m a parent of 5yo. He needs to go to in-person schooling and this can done relatively safely if everyone masks. Our property taxes pay for schools and our children deserve a safe environment. I know most kids fare relatively well but some don’t. I won’t play Russian roulette with his health.Anonymous
As a parent of 3 children in Elementary, Middle School and High school, I think it’s our choice whether we choose to have our children wear a mask or not. We shouldn’t be forced to do something against our will. Having these kids in a mask for 8 plus hours is not good for them.Jennifer
Having mask mandates in place in schools is a must. We must protect our children and do whatever is possible to prevent covid from spreading. The lives and health of our innocent children is top priority and wearing a mask is the least we can do to keep them safe.Anonymous
While all of you on here are talking about vaccinating your children, I can guarantee you that the vaccine is not a preventative, nor is it a shield to protect you from getting COVID-19. I was vaccinated in March and I have COVID-19 right now and have been suffering for two weeksAnonymous
I am extremely concerned and fearful for the families being forced to attend in person at a peak rising of cases. Delta is said to be more dangerous to children why would they be forced to attend in person learning with a full school? Schools have not implemented precautions to distance children.Anonymous
Parents should choose what is best for their children. No mask mandates! Follow the science. Masks do not prevent disease, yet wearing one all day does harm my child’s physical, social, & psychological health. If parents want to mask their children, they can. Why take away my right to choose?Sam
I am a mom of 3 kids who will NOT be in school as long as they are being used as leverage in this political puppet show. Some of us did NOT take our kids to malls, beaches and waterparks...some of us are actually trying to be stewards of our society, instead if critics. Shameful & disappointingCrystal
All children should be back in a classroom without a mask mandate. If you want to wear one, feel free to wear one. If you feel that your child needs virtual schools, there are various online free K-12 schools that you can find. To hold in-person and virtual is hard on a teacher.Jessie
I am a SPED teacher in SAISD, and I believe virtual learning should be an option for students’ who are unable too and don’t understand the concept of wearing a mask. They are putting themselves, and us in harm.Anonymous
Science- children are not seriously affected or carriers. No masks. Our CDC has been wrong monthly. They are political. My youngest kids where falling behind last year with virtual classes. How does 1 hour of virtual equate to a 7 hour school day? It doesn’t. My teen honor student failed everything.Anonymous
Last year distance learning was so hard with 4 young kids we resorted to homeschooling. We got COVID in November. My kids did great. It didn’t really affect them. I’m no longer afraid of covid, however we are homeschooling again cuz school is not the same. Waiting for the chaos to subside. SomedayAni
As a former teacher aide we worked out tails off to develop redevelop as changes, glitches came up. Nothing was good enough for the parents. To have 4 or five in class and 6 who occasionally showed up virtually was insane. So now they want assistance from lazy teachers, who’s health was unimportant.Anonymous
I’m a parent of a student in elementary and one in high school. Although the eligible people in our family are vaccinated, we still believe mask wearing is a must. My youngest is high risk. I’m glad the district is ignoring Abbott’s restriction. I hope he realizes the importance and changes his mindAnonymous
I beg for Bexar County citizens to leave the politics out of the pandemic. It’s not whether one is liberal or conservative. It is about keeping all of our citizenry well; especially the vulnerable. That just might mean protecting the kids from their own parents.Suzanne
Gov. Abbott basically said masks are a CHOICE. There are special provisions for exceptional circumstances. Always have been. Check out the update on Texas Education Agency on COVID. Don’t send your kid to school if they are ill and follow hygiene protocols. That was in place pre-COVID. Common sense.Anonymous
I see all of these people talking about having the freedom to choose. How come that doesn’t apply to women’s rights where you conservatives are concerned? You cant have it both ways. My kids and I are blessed to have the shots and will wear masks to help others. It’s called accountability. Learn it!Anonymous
I am a student at judson high school and I definitely can not handle having a mask on all day most of the day on bus in school and i have autism which it is very hard for me to do this with a mask on so yes I dont want to wear a mask no more it is hard to breath in and it is bad for people.Kyla
I think it way way to dangerous for my 7 year old to return to in-class school at NEISD. the variant is way more dangerous than last year. THOUSAND OAKS ELEMENTARY. THE Gov andCDC and officials should be trying to protect our loving children who cannot protect themselves. Pls start school later PlsDonna
Several responses to the KSAT prompt indicate that masks aren’t effective or suggest they do little to help spread COVID-19. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
Wearing a face mask may also limit your exposure to respiratory droplets and large particles, which may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus, according to the FDA.
Some parents have also expressed concern about the COVID-19 delta variant. University Health’s director of hospital epidemiology Dr. Jason Bowling said that someone with the delta variant could potentially infect seven to eight others, whereas someone with the alpha strain might have only infected two to three people.
He also said the reason we’re seeing more children in the hospital than we did with the alpha strain is not necessarily because it affects children more severely, but because the delta strain is more transmissible and people are taking fewer precautions than before.
As for the virtual learning debate - Texas lawmakers failed to pass a bill earlier this year that would have funded school districts for virtual learning. The bill was widely and openly supported by both Republicans and Democrats but House Democrats walked off the legislative floor, effectively killing the bill, in their effort to block a separate, controversial voting bill.
The move by the Democrats left the legislature without the minimum number of representatives needed to vote on policies - also known as a quorum. Without a quorum, voting can’t take place and no bills can be passed.
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