Houston ISD students and employees who refuse to wear masks when the school year begins could face discipline and be forced to temporarily learn online under new guidelines released by the district.
With exceptions and reasonable accommodations made for people with a “documented medical disability,” the district’s updated back-to-school plan, released Friday evening, says that those who refuse to comply with the mask mandate will face consequences.
HISD Superintendent Millard House II implemented a mask requirement on all students, staff and visitors to all campuses and facilities last week, with the support of the board of trustees.
Under the new rules, laid out in the district’s “Ready, Set, Go” plan, if a student is not wearing a mask, one will be provided. Students who refuse to wear masks will be “placed in a separate area” and their parents or guardians contacted. Students who continue to refuse to use face masks will be directed to stay home, marked absent and offered temporary online learning. Kids who refuse to wear face coverings on buses also may have their transportation privileges suspended.
An employee who refuses to wear a mask will be sent home for one day on administrative leave. A second occurrence will result in the employee being sent home and his or her personal time docked. If an employee violates the mandate a third time, he or she will face discipline, be sent home and personal time docked.
Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said she thinks HISD Superintendent Millard House is making the right move with the new rules.
“I feel that he’s trying to do what is best for staff and students,” she said. “Employers have a right to do what they think is best for their employees.”
However, like all disciplinary actions, the union will defend its members who face consequences for not wearing masks.
“We would defend any member facing any disciplinary action,” she said. “We have an obligation to do that.”
See here for some background; I missed the story where HISD approved the proposal. I agree completely with this approach. Put the burden on the people who refuse to comply. There’s no better way to maximize compliance. We’ll see what the legal situation looks like on Monday, but I fully support this approach.
The alternative looks something like this:
With the official return of students to campuses in Katy ISD slated for Wednesday, Aug. 18, the district reports it currently has 100 reported cases of COVID-19 throughout the district.
According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, the hardest-hit campuses are among the biggest in the district including:
Katy High School with six cases, including three staff members and three students.
While not mandated, the district encourages students and staff to wear face coverings when indoors, particularly for kindergarten through sixth-grade students until a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for students those ages.
Social distancing is encouraged, when possible.
A small school district in West Texas has apparently become the first in the state this school year to temporarily shut its doors due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community.
An official of the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District, with fewer than 400 students, announced Monday that it will close as of Tuesday and aims to reopen Aug. 30.
“This decision was made to ensure the safety of our students and staff as well as to make certain that we have appropriate staff available for each campus,” Superintendent Tracy Canter said in the statement.
Two small East Texas school districts — Bloomburg and Waskom — also planned to cancel classes at some schools this week due to the coronavirus, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The district’s back-to-school plan said masks were not required but were strongly encouraged.
Over the last week, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Pecos County, where Iraan is located, have risen from 9.5% to about 14.5% of hospital capacity, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
This is what “voluntary compliance” will get you. Give me mandatory compliance, if you want better results.