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LISD board votes to require facial coverings on campuses

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In a nearly complete reversal from its decision 12 days ago, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees voted 5-2 on Saturday to require teachers, students, parents and anyone else who steps foot on a Lockhart school campus to wear a facial covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A full-time virtual learning option for students was also discussed, but the board did not vote on that item.

Just 12 days ago at a regular LISD board meeting, Trustee Tom Guyton said he and his kids wore masks despite not particularly caring for them. He said they made that decision in part because Del Valle ISD, the school district that employs him, mandated it for employees, and in his kids’ case, because they believe it is the right thing to do.

On Aug. 23, when the board voted down a proposal by Dr. Barbara Sanchez that the district mandate the wearing of facial coverings, Guyton said he was against it due to a lack of information but would change his stance if further information warranted it.

For Guyton, that day was apparently Saturday at a special-called meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees, who were meeting to discuss whether a rising COVID-19 caseload was enough to reverse the district’s stance on facial coverings, which, until Saturday, were urged but not required.

Guyton shared his thoughts after a presentation by Superintendent Mark Estrada, who shared that the district was dealing with a significant amount of teachers, bus drivers, custodians, food service workers and substitute teachers who were unavailable to work due to COVID-19.

“I don’t like the word mandate … but if we don’t have bus drivers to drive kids to school and if we don’t have child nutrition workers or teachers in the classroom, what do we have?” Guyton shared. “It is affecting our entire system of operation.”

Guyton said that while he hated defying an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott prohibiting local governments from requiring individuals to wear facial coverings, he felt the situation warranted it.

Citing one of the 29 individuals who signed up to speak at the meeting before board and action and pleaded with board members to take the advice of city and county health official Dr. Charles Laurence, who recommended the mandate, Guyton said he had made up his mind.

“As much as I don’t like wearing masks, as he said, who would we go see if we got COVID-19? The governor, or Dr. (Charles) Laurence? We would go to the doctor,” Guyton said. “Rosa Parks had to break the quote unquote rules at one time, and I think we are at the point where we have to break the rules to do the right thing for the kids, the staff and our community.”

Dr. Barbara Sanchez made the motion to require masks on campuses, including at indoor sporting events. Guyton and trustees Michael Wright, Rene Rayos, Sam Lockhart joined Sanchez in voting yes for the mandate. 

Board President Steve Johnson and Trustee Warren Burnett voted against Dr. Sanchez’s motion.

Read what they had to say and more in this week’s Lockhart Post-Register.

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