Jan. 31, 2022
As the Omicron variant grows across Texas, students in public high schools are turning to petition drives and walks in an effort to require school districts to have more COVID-19 protocols, The Texas Tribune reports.
The students are asking for a return to face mask rules as an extension of virtual learning. In some cases, they want school districts to temporarily close during the surge.
“We can do more, and we do not choose [in order] to stay open, at all costs, and by all necessary means, “Tiernee Pitts, a protest leader and senior at Cedar Ridge High School in the Round Rock Independent School District, told The Texas Tribune.” It just feels like we’re just open. are while everything around us is falling. “
Since the school reopened after the winter break, there have been 192,145 COVID-19 student cases and 61,142 staff cases, said The Tribune, quoted by the Texas Education Agency. That seems to be the highest case level since the beginning of the pandemic.
In the Fort Bend school district, more than 200 students have signed a petition calling for schools to be closed during the surge. One of those students, Jada Clerk, a freshman at William B. Travis High School, said she has asthma and that walking downstairs among unmasked classmates is stressful.
“Sometimes I do not even want to breathe,” Clerk told The Tribune. “You can really feel the breath of people on you. We were so close [in the hallway],
A student in the Garland school district, 11th grader Fernando Alaniz, says Omicron is so prevalent that three of his teachers are sick. Half of his eight teachers and most students do not wear masks, he told The Tribune.
About 700 people have signed a petition calling on Garland School officials to make changes, such as reinstating distance learning for students who test positive, revising the mask rule, giving PCR tests and providing masks on school.
“It’s unfortunate that our school district does not care about the health of students and staff, even though we are going through a pandemic that has taken the lives of so many people in Texas,” the petition says.
Students at the Round Rock school district, north of Austin, ran out in an effort to get the administration to impose more safety rules. More than 1,800 signed an online petition.
The Tribune said district officials met with student protest organizers and agreed to some requirements, such as providing more high-quality test sites and masks.
Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, the head of the Round Rock School District of Public Affairs and Communications, told The Tribune that staff shortages make some of the requirements difficult to meet. She said, for example, that the neighborhood could not find enough people to carry out contact tracing. The neighborhood previously had a program when there were enough people.
The Tribune said the Texas Attorney General is accusing the Round Rock ISD of requiring masks in schools – a rule that Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. But Pitts, the student, said the mask mandate is not upheld and that many students do not wear it.