Ector County ISD not changing mask protocols
ODESSA AMERICAN - Despite the mask mandate being lifted by Gov. Greg Abbott this week, Ector County ISD plans to stick to its protocols.
Odessa College is not changing course either, Director of Media Relations Cheri Dalton said in a text message.
Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard said Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency Mike Morath has scheduled a call with all superintendents and school districts today to provide guidance.
The mask mandate is due to end March 10. Howard said ECISD doesn’t expect to make any changes at this time.
“The safety of our students and staff is foremost and forefront,” Howard said.
Howard said the district has gotten a lot of feedback from people who don’t want changes to the protocols.
“Parents who have chosen to send their students because they feel comfortable with the protocols, employees that don’t feel comfortable if everybody’s in the building without masks on, so it really is kind of the opposite of that from what I’ve seen and heard …,” Howard added.
“The protocols that we’ve had in place since August, people have recognized that those work when it’s done right and well. We know how important it is to have students in school and (to) continue to have school, so when we think about it from that lens we’ve had some feedback on we need to stick with our protocols that have allowed us to have school all year.”
Howard noted that there will still be hand sanitizer stations around every building.
“All of our protocols are staying in place. We even provide that extra layer our employees when they’re with students, (they) wear a face shield in addition to the mask. Back in November when we thought the surge might come after Thanksgiving, we actually put in place and it is still in place through this week, we all wear face shields anytime we’re out of our classroom or out of our office. Before it was just if you’re with students like if I went to a classroom, I wear my face shield but if I was down the hall I just wore my mask. So we’ve actually had that additional layer of protection in place since right before Thanksgiving,” Howard said.
Last week, volunteers were allowed to start with outside activities such as morning greeters and help with morning drop-off and dismissal, Howard said.
“Even though things are getting better, we want to slowly phase those back in and not make decisions quickly that cause us to see the numbers increase,” Howard said.
University of Texas Permian Basin Communications Manager Alexa Dunson said in a text message that UTPB along with the UT System is evaluating Abbott’s recent order.
The Texas Faculty Association joined the chorus urging Abbott to listen to health experts and keep the statewide mask mandate in place, at least for college and university campuses, a news release said.
“We all look forward to a future when we can return to ‘normal,’ but that time isn’t here yet,” said TFA President Pat Heintzelman, an instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont. “By repealing the statewide mask mandate prematurely and against the advice of health experts, Gov. Abbott is jeopardizing the health and lives of countless Texans, including many students, teachers and staff on higher education campuses.”
“We call on the governor to keep the mask mandate in place for higher education institutions, at least until more COVID vaccines arrive and every college and university employee who wants a vaccine can get one,” she added.