Students wearing masks at school remains a polarized topic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- First-day jitters across Alief ISD were amplified as all students returned to in-person learning for the first time in more than a year.

"I felt scared with all the things going on with the new COVID variant and all," said mother Alba Menendez.

She said she's worried as the delta variant of the virus, which is more contagious, sweeps across Houston infecting children at a faster and more aggressive rate.

Menendez's 6-year-old son wore a mask to school where she said the teacher requested it during the school's 'meet-the-teacher' night.

"Fully masked, yes of course," said the mom. "We talked to him not to take it off at all except during lunch time, so he's aware."

READ ALSO: Bucking governor's ban on school mask mandates is 'necessary civil disobedience,' judge says

Inside Chancellor Elementary School on Boone Road, desks that were once pushed together for student collaboration have now been separated once again. Their school year started with six students calling out sick, infected with the virus.

"We're concerned as well, knowing that the children in this building are unable to be vaccinated. It's a struggle," said Principal Lisa Saarie. "We've had many parents call and ask what our policies are."

Alief ISD is requesting all students, staff and faculty to wear masks on campus, but are not requiring it.

READ MORE: More Texas schools release COVID-19 protocols ahead of 2021-2022 school year

While in Katy, the debate was heated during public comments of Tuesday's school board meeting.

"I repeat, masks must be optional," said one mother. "If you defy the law of the land and hire elected officials such as [Gov. Greg Abbott,] we will have to defy you. We will resist and teach our kids the cost of liberty."

One student, however, disagreed.

"I compel the Katy Independent School District to join hands with Dallas and Austin ISD and many others in mandating masks for students and staff members."

The school board was not slated to vote on a mask policy, but they did unanimously vote to continue providing a virtual learning option for students enrolled in kindergarten through the 6th grade.

Katy ISD's Katy Virtual Academy (KVA) online learning program will be open for enrollment Wednesday morning.

READ MORE: Katy ISD approves virtual learning for K through 6th grade students

Two other major school districts in Texas will require masks.

Both Austin ISD and Dallas ISD are going against Abbott's ban on mask mandates.

Houston ISD is scheduled to take up the issue on Thursday, Aug. 12.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Shelley Childers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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