Prosper ISD requires masks for remainder of school year

By Aubrey Turner
For the Prosper Press
Prosper ISD's Administration Building on July 10. The district recently released information about its continued mask mandate.

Parents, students have mixed feelings

When Governor Abbott lifted the mask mandate, effective March 10, and opened meeting capacity to 100 percent, many people were unsure how this would impact local school districts. 

Christal Hankey at Prosper Independent School District said “Prosper ISD has reviewed guidance from TEA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and consulted with local health experts as to how this order impacts school districts and what disease mitigation practices should be in place in Prosper ISD. 

Based on the information and guidance from these groups, our staff, and our parents, along with careful consideration of the safety of PISD students and staff, the District has decided to continue its current practice of requiring face coverings for students (grades 4-12), staff, and visitors, as has been the case all school year. District data has also consistently shown that the spread of COVID-19 on campus is minimal when face coverings are worn. The results from parent and staff feedback are below.”

Kris Lee is a parent of four children in Prosper ISD. 

“We will continue to wear our masks, regardless of what is mandated,” Lee said.  “I am a registered nurse.  I am basing what we will do as a family based on what the health officials are saying.  I had Corona virus last March, and I know it can be tough for a person.  I feel like it can not hurt to keep wearing a mask.

“I understand the freedom to choose. My opinion is that we have the opportunity to choose what restaurants we visit and where we go, but schools and hospitals should not make masks optional.  I do not feel that our children's education is hindered by the masks.  I would prefer for everyone to be safe at the school.”

 Owen Hammond, name changed to protect his identity, is a fifteen year old student in Prosper schools. 

“I do not agree with the decision to keep masks because they have caused me to have headaches,” Hammond said.  “I also noticed that I have been sick with sinus infections more often this year.  I think it is because I am breathing in the bacteria I exhale.  Everyone has been wearing their masks and Covid is still spreading around so I do not think that the masks are very effective.

“I participate in several sports, but at the beginning of the year during football practice we were required to wear masks. It made it very hard to breathe and I would get exhausted during practice.  They did change this requirement after a few weeks and practices got a lot better.”

Tracy Strickland has two children at the middle school level and is active in the PTO. 

“I actually do not have a problem with the masks,” Strickland said.  “As long as everyone has to follow the same rules, I think the masks are fine.  What is bothering me is that the children have not been able to participate as fully this year as in years past.  For example, the administration is considering dividing the students up by grade and gender to make for smaller banquets at the end of the year.  I want the district to find a way to allow these children to have more activities for these last nine weeks.

“I have empathy for the teachers. I know the teachers are tired.  I feel for the school board.  I know it was difficult for seven members to decide for twenty thousand students.  I feel like we are all so lucky to have school in person and have sports.  I hope that people can treat each other kindly and just get through this last bit.”

Lacy Wheeler does not agree with the mask requirement. 

“Back in December, Dr. Ferguson said that when the mask mandate was lifted, she had no problem unmasking our children.  We believed her.  I feel like we as parents should be trusted to make the choice for our children if they wear masks to school.  We have people who supersede Prosper ISD saying that it is safe to take off our masks.  I feel frustrated that Prosper is making this choice for the parents.

“There is no scientific evidence that masks are slowing the spread of respiratory viruses. We have brought numbers to the school board meetings.  But we are not even asking that everyone go without masks.  We want to be able to choose for our children to not wear masks.” 

Wheeler is considering other options for education next year. 

“There is a group in Prosper that is considering leaving the school district,” Wheeler said.  “There is such a focus on compliance and control, both in our country and locally here in Prosper.  I feel like the school board lied to us and feel like there is nothing the residents can do about it.

“It is difficult for the children to be so isolated from each other. This has impacted my children's education and emotions.  The children are not allowed to be around friends in other classes.  My son does not even know if his teacher likes him because he can not see the bottom of his teacher’s face.  This whole thing is so troubling.”