Mom pulls daughter out of Conroe ISD over COVID: 'It just felt like a game of high stakes poker'

Miya Shay Image
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Mom pulls daughter out of Conroe ISD over COVID worries
"It just felt like a game of high stakes poker," said the mom, who pulled her daughter out after one week of in-person learning.

CONROE, Texas (KTRK) -- Virginia Houk did not want to pull her daughter out of kindergarten in Conroe, but the mother of two young children felt like she had no other choice.

"It just felt like a game of high stakes poker, every day," said the mom, who pulled her daughter out after one week of in-person learning at Conroe ISD.

Conroe ISD, like many of the suburban and rural districts outside of large Texas cities, does not have a mask mandate.

"It was just too much of a gamble for us, especially since we didn't feel like we're getting support that we should have," said Houk.

READ ALSO: Texas mom calls for increased COVID protocols at daughter's school after 11-year-old contracts virus

The mom says her 11-year-old contracted the virus during her first couple of days of school. Now, the girl is fighting for her life at a hospital.

The district strongly encourages masks, but there is no requirement. It has also consistently had a significant number of positive cases every day.

According to the district's own numbers, there were 1,367 positive cases on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

That accounted for 18 out of every 1,000 students.

So far, this week's numbers are lower, with 821 cases on Tuesday, Sept. 7, accounting for 11 students out of every 1,000.

The situation at Conroe ISD, and other Montgomery County school districts, was dire enough that on Aug. 24, the Montgomery County Health Authority sent a letter to every district in the county, asking that they institute mask mandates.

"I recommend that a school superintendents and school board members, you require mask utilization by all students, staff, and teachers," the letter stated.

However, nothing changed.

"It's disappointing. I understand it's a very difficult situation, politically, legally, but when you have the county health authority writing these letters, multiple times ... " said Houk, who was clearly frustrated.

Meanwhile, Conroe ISD issued the following statement to ABC13.

"As requested by the Montgomery County Public Health Authority in their letter of advisement, Conroe ISD strongly recommends the wearing of masks since Executive Order GA-38 prohibits mask mandates."

The Texas Education Agency, however, has stated that Gov. Greg Abbott's no-mask mandate order is currently not being enforced because of litigation. In fact, most of the large urban school districts in Texas, including Houston ISD, does have a mask mandate.

Houk is among approximately 700 Conroe ISD parents who have formed a local group to lobby the school board to change its stance. These parents say they would like to see the district follow CDC guidelines, including masks, social distancing, and more testing.

READ ALSO: 'Beg them to get vaccinated:' Texas mom shares daughter's final message before dying of COVID

"It's frustrating that masks have become so political," said Houk. "It's not about the science anymore. It's about politics, and it shouldn't be."

Late Tuesday afternoon, the president of the Conroe ISD School Board, Skeeter Hubert, sent ABC13 a statement, saying:

"We will continue to respect our Governor's Executive Order. Thankfully our COVID cases are continuing to decrease. We hope this trend continues."

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Miya Shay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.