Longview ISD superintendent says mask mandate decision was not taken lightly

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:54 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Gregg County and the state, Longview ISD has announced the mandatory wearing of face masks while on district property and that includes school buses.

LISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said the board did not make the decision lightly.

“Friday we had more students and we had more faculty out with COVID than we had at any point last year,” Wilcox said.

He said the board felt like they didn’t have a choice about making masks mandatory on school property.

“There are districts in Texas already closing their doors because of COVID-related illness. Down south of us in the Houston area, there are districts not much larger than us that already have a thousand plus students out,” Wilcox said.

So masks are once again required in classrooms. At Hudson Pep the book a teacher read to the class was topical since it dealt with hand washing. That’s just what all students are required to do before entering the school.

Wilcox said the board doesn’t want parents to think they are forcing children to wear a mask.

“But they’re just wearing that piece of cloth to show respect to their teacher and to the student in their class that may be medically fragile,” Wilcox said.

Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said he wasn’t consulted on the decision, but he agrees with it.

“I certainly concur with LISD, and I’m glad that they made that decision because I think that was very forward and very appropriate,” Browne said.

Masks are also again required on buses, but Browne said mask-wearing shouldn’t have stopped on the bus.

“It is public transportation, and under the CDC guidelines, and the government guidelines is that they were supposed to be wearing masks on the buses,” Browne said.

As far as wearing masks on district property, “It is a decision we felt like that if we’re going to do the right thing for the students in this district, then we had to do it,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox also said he believes students learn better in the classroom than at home in front of a computer screen.

Wilcox said the board will be keeping up with the case count and will assess the situation on a daily basis. They will let everyone at their schools know when they feel it is safe to take off the mask.

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