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Mask or no mask? East Texas school districts weigh in

Chapel Hill ISD credits its low COVID-19 numbers on its mask mandate.

CHAPEL HILL, Texas — Despite Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order, more than 100 school districts in the state have mandated masks at some point since the beginning of the school year.

Lufkin ISD Superintendent, Lynn Torres, says ,"there were some times that we wanted the governor to do something in the last year and he didn't," since then the school district has mandated masks and says it's the best decision for their students:

"Lufkin ISD is 83% poverty," Torres said. "So if I have to close schools and my children cannot come to school, it also means that they may not have breakfast, they may not have lunch, and they may not have the mechanism at home to study virtually."

Chapel Hill ISD mandated masks on August 31 after the district saw a spike of COVID-19 cases. 

"At the beginning of August, we had about nine students and staff that were COVID-19 positive, then it jumped drastically to almost 200 staff and students," Chapel Hill ISD Communications Director Belen Casillas said.

The district now has only 19 positive cases: 15 students and four staff members. 

"Hopefully all parents are insisting their children wear a mask at all times at school due to the fact that COVID is real," Chapel Hill ISD grandparent Bevelon Ford.

On the flip side, Spring Hill ISD does not have a mask mandate in place, although their numbers are relatively low, sitting at around 2% per campus.

 Spring Hill ISD Superintendent Penny Fleet says the goal is to provide as close to  "normalcy" for the students as possible.

"They only get to be a third-grader, one time, a senior. they only get to do it once and so our goal is to keep these kiddos in school; as normal of an experience for them as we can," said Fleet.

Spring Hill ISD has many cleaning protocols in place: germ blasts treatments, social distancing when possible, encouraging hand washing and sanitizing, and in-district rapid tests for teachers.