Protest

Pro-mask mandate protest signs were seen outside Killeen ISD Thusrday morning. Retired Killeen ISD educator Irene Andrews, of Nolanville, protested for the district to implement a mask mandate Thursday.

As Bell County’s COVID-19 infection rates continue to climb, pro-mask mandate parents and staff say they will continue to protest until the KISD school board implements a face mask mandate for all KISD students.

Retired KISD educator Irene Andrews stood outside Killeen ISD headquarters at 8 a.m. Thursday morning holding a protest sign which read: “Stand up for our kids! Have the courage to mandate face masks. Do it now.”

Protest

Retired Killeen ISD educator Irene Andrews, of Nolanville, protests outside Killeen ISD recently. 

Andrews said she would continue to push for a mask mandate until she sees action from the KISD school board. A run-in with City of Killeen code enforcement Thursday morning — an issue over the proximity of some of her protest signs — didn’t curtail her cause.

Within the first 10 days of school, Killeen ISD recorded 167 positive cases of COVID-19 at 41 of the district’s 51 campuses. Most of KISD’s recorded cases were among elementary students who are ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pro-mask mandate parents and staff say a mandatory mask policy would decrease the district’s COVID-19 infection rate.

The CDC recommends indoor masking for all individuals age 2 years and older, including students, teachers, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

BOARD AFTERMATH

More than 30 pro-mask mandate protesters attended the KISD school board meeting Tuesday. After two hours of emotional public testimony, mostly from those in favor of masks, a motion from KISD board member Brett Williams for a districtwide mask mandate died on the floor of the boardroom after it failed to garner support from the remaining board members.

Protesters reacted Thursday to the board’s inaction Tuesday.

“The board’s callous attitude towards the well-being of our children is infuriating,” Ayayi Eneli, mother of three KISD students, said Thursday.

Protest

Pro-mask mandate protest signs were seen along South W.S. Young Drive Thursday morning before City of Killeen code enforcement requested protester Irene Andrews remove the signs.

“Their decision not to even go on record and take a vote, in my opinion, is cowardly and reckless,” Eneli said. “We know that children can be carriers — how is it that we cannot mandate something as basic as a mask to provide some protection?”

KISD Superintendent John Craft, board vice president Susan Jones and board member Corbett Lawler expressed their refusal to go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban — a ban that carries with it a $1,000 fine for each day a school district is out of compliance. More than 50 school districts statewide have shirked the governor’s executive order by implementing their own mask mandates.

According to KISD’s calculations, the district could be fined $171,000 at most for a year of violating the governor’s executive order — a drop in the bucket for a district that boasts a nearly half-billion-dollar budget.

Harker Heights High School teacher Jennifer Lee, who was hospitalized for COVID-19 last year, said she will not stop speaking about the importance of masks until the district makes a change.

“We’re definitely not done with this,” Lee said Thursday. “This is not over. I will never be quiet about it.”

Lee said she hopes the public will remember how the majority of the school board behaved during a deadly pandemic.

“It’s exhausting because it’s needless,” she said. “We shouldn’t be at this point. This is ridiculous. We’ve been at this almost one and a half, two years now; we shouldn’t be in this position.”

Lee said she was disappointed by the board’s “spineless” inaction, but thanked Williams for being the lone board member to stand up for the students and staff.

“It’s exhausting to know that each day is a statement of, ‘We don’t care,’ she said. “We’re pretending that COVID isn’t there, we don’t care. Wear a mask if you want a mask, but we really don’t care. Mentally, it’s exhausting.”

But Lee said she’s not giving up on Killeen ISD education.

“I’m very happy to be face-to-face with my students and getting to talk to them,” she said.

The Killeen Educators Association, a branch of the Texas State Teachers Association which represents hundreds of KISD teachers and other staff members, thanked Williams for his mask mandate support during Tuesday’s meeting.

“KEA wants to commend school board member Brett Williams for standing up to motion to keep the schools safe even though he didn’t have the support he needed,” KEA president Rachel Bourrage said in a statement Thursday.

Bourrage said 81 percent of KEA members who responded to an internal poll support a mask mandate at KISD.

“An additional and critically important part of mitigating the spread of COVID is for the district to have a mask mandate,” Bourrage said. “There are dozens of peer reviewed scholarly studies ranging from the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Nursing Studies that prove masks work to mitigate the spread. ... Leaders should set the example.”

A neighboring school district, Waco ISD, implemented a districtwide mask mandate Thursday afternoon.

ldodd@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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(3) comments

ResistTyranny

KISD pro-mask protesters continue to push for asphyxiating your children with a polypropylene dirty face diaper child abuse.

There I fixed it for you. All of you parents, educators, and others are SICK demented child abusers. If you want to abuse your own children or want to wear a face diaper yourself go for it but leave everyone else's children alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiEufbIyJxM

Armain

What is the matter with having your own kids wear their masks? This should make them safe if that is what you want. Why try to dictate other people's behavior.? I would bet lots of money that even if there is a mask mandate many of the high schoolers will have the masks around their chin instead of their mouths especially in between classes. It will never be perfect so concentrate on taking care of your loved ones and let others worry about their kids.

Noneofyourbiz

Like the ER doctor said, Irene's water bottle stunt was more dangerous than not wearing a mask.

That water in a reused plastic bottle can carry bacteria and residue from chemicals even washed can contaminated the water. Chemicals get Into the plastic, that is why you do not reuse plastic bottles that have been used for other things. He said also that water can can carry ecoli even city water and so on.

The fact she spread it in a room full of people posed a threat because anything could have been in that water, it could have been spit in or worst. The show she put on was nothing more than a show, as he stated water droplets from a spray bottle is not as tiny as the virus. As he said I would have to get a mask like his if I truly wanted to insure my safety, fancy mask bought at the store are not sterile they are handle by people that package them in places that are far from sterile or meet standards.

Once again, it is fine if you want to wear a mask and speak on that, but it is not okay to put on a show that puts others at risk. There is no such thing as good trouble.

Focus on keeping your own children safe, get the shot, wear a mask. Worry about your own family and stop trying to force your will upon others.

I am sure you would not like it if a mandate went into effect that said no one could wear a mask.

Be safe and remember freedom to choose is your right, and freedom to choose is what sets us apart from the Taliban and other countries that use force against thier citizens.

.

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