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Masks still required at VISD

The Vernon Independent School District board of trustees opted to keep the mask mandate in place for all students, staff and visitors – at least through the end of the school year, which ends in May.  The vote was part of the Wednesday, April 21 VISD trustee meeting.

But the trustees were divided about the decision, opting by a 4-1 vote to keep the measure in place in indoors spaces. Outdoors events are exempt. Trustee Chris Lehman voted no, while Kevin Young did not vote.

After Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded mandatory masks in Texas, the VISD trustees voted in March to leave the mask-mandate in place for one month, and then revisit the issue in April.

Superintendent Jeff Byrd said that in the previous five days the district had three positive Covid staff cases and one positive student. He said 5 staff and 11 students were quarantined, and those numbers were lower due to the mask mandate then if there had been no mask mandate. He said the definition of exposure changes whether depending on whether masks were worn or not. Elementary principal Stephanie Merrill said that positive cases were on her campus and if there had been no mask mandate, then a whole grade probably would have had to be quarantined.

Byrd said that if they removed the mandate, then the possibility of spring activities and graduation being impacted was a possibility.

“I’d hate to ruin everything they have planned,” Trustee Kevin Young said.

“I say leave it to the end of the year,” trustee Tom Scott said. Scott added that he’d like leeway on enforcement, with no masks at sports events or dances.

Young asked the board if they were in consensus to keep the masks, and asked Trustee Chris Lehman if he would make the motion. Lehman responded “I don’t like them.” And declined to make the motion.

Trustee Mike Boyd made the motion to keep the masks in place, Lehman voted no, while Boyd, Emory Byers, Carrie Hawkins and Scott voted yes.

Staff asked about summer school, and whether masks would be required. Byrd said they will address that issue in the May board meeting.

For more on the April board meeting, see the upcoming edition of the Vernon Record.

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