Parents fed up with masks gather at school board meeting
Parents gathered at the Prosper ISD School Board meeting on March 15 to voice their concerns about masks being required in Prosper public schools after Governor Abbott had lifted the mandate. A small number of parents and students had voiced their concerns each month at the meeting, however, this gathering was larger and more dynamic, and filled the board room to capacity.
People held signs and wore shirts indicating that they felt that parents should be given the choice if their children would wear masks in school.
Several parents and students also spoke at the meeting.
“We are brand new parents to the district,” said Pat Cochrane who has been speaking at the school board meetings all year. “March was encouraging for me. This month was overwhelming for me in terms of the turn out at this meeting. The parental engagement has been amazing. People want to have input to school board meetings. One of the biggest frustrations is that Dr. Ferguson has said to me, in a recorded meeting, that as soon as they were able to lift the mask rule, they would. She went back on her word.”
“We knew that there would be a high level of interest after Governor Abbott issued GA 34, stating that no person could be mandated to enforce masks,” Cochrane said. “The parents want to have a conversation about this with the district. We feel that continuing to mandate masking could go against the mandate.”
Cochrane and others have been reaching out to those in their community to inform parents and students about the goings on in the meetings. “There are many families that are concerned that unilateral masking is not healthy for every student. I think a lot of people take for granted that the school board just works. As this has continued more people are realizing that the board may not work in the best interest of the students.”
Hillary Morabito has six children in Prosper ISD. “People attending the meeting in March were in response to not feeling heard, and even silenced, by the school board,” Morabito said. “We feel that there has been no compromise. Now that the mandate from the Governor has lifted the mandate, as well as Judge Chris Hill here in Collin County. We have children who are having mental health issues, not engaged in best learning practices, and have experienced health side effects from breathing their exhalation debris all day. We felt that the school district is not taking all of these things into consideration. This means silencing a huge portion of parents and students in the district.”
“We attended the meeting because we feel like we are standing up for our children,” Morabito said. “I think people are realizing that this is not going away. The school board is not even saying it is going away next year. The science says that masks do not work. It feels like Stockholm Syndrome, that people just do not want to let go of the masks.”
Logan Creel is a senior at Prosper High School. He spoke at the School Board meeting on Monday. “I spoke about the legality of requiring masks,” Creel said. “I cited a few of the Texas Education Code laws. I have been in the law enforcement track in school, all the way up to this year, and I feel like the School Board is acting against the law. The school has taught me about the law, how to read the law even, and then is not following the law.”
“I feel like the School Board does let us speak, but they are not hearing what we are saying,” Creel said. “I feel like they are not taking our words into consideration. It feels like the members had already decided what they were going to do and it did not matter what we said.”
According to Prosper ISD, “Prosper ISD continues to evaluate data and guidance from local, state, and national health authorities as well as TEA to determine how we will continue the process of returning to normal while protecting the well-being and safety of students and staff.” Additionally, during the School Board meeting, after the public comments, School Board President Jim Bridges said, “We spent time talking about this quite a bit. This comes down to the educators. The teachers and staff were not put on the vaccination list. While children are not as vulnerable, we know that the staff may not share in that. We were concerned about their exposure and they are not able to teach virtually.We also worry about changing the method of the instruction. Finally we worried about the events that we lost last year: prom, scholarship night, graduation. We really want those things to happen. So I move that we allow for everyone to be mask free at outdoor events.”
This was a motion approved unanimously by the board.