Two KHS seniors want the district to change policy for more COVID protection

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The following article was published by the Star-Telegram late last week. It covers the efforts of two Kennedale High School students who are campaigning for a change of policy regarding facemask usage once students return to the classroom.

Some Kennedale students want to require masks everywhere on campus. District officials say that’s not possible

By James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram  

Kennedale schools will require students to wear masks while on campus except when social distancing is possible, a measure some students are saying is not enough.

Maddison Fail and Allie Murphy, seniors at Kennedale High School, say students should be required to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms even when social distancing.

Students will be required to wear masks at all times when social distancing is not possible, according to a statement from the district.

Fail and Murphy started a petition, along with some other student leaders on campuses in the district, in hopes of showing the district support for requiring masks at all times on campus.

The petition had 196 signatures as of Friday evening. [Update: As of publishing time the number of signatures is 522.]

Fail said they are looking for more parents to sign the petition with the belief the school board will pay more attention to the issue that way.

Fail said they are doing the petition for the safety of students, employees, and elderly family members who may get the virus from those students or employees.

Kennedale school district spokeswoman Mandy Rabalais said the district’s lawyer told them the district can’t legally do that, pointing to orders from Gov. Greg Abbott regarding social distancing and face masks.

The masks cannot be required when social distancing is possible and being exercised, Rabalais said.

“We read the governor’s order to say that masks are required unless you can social distance and we cannot require masks for students 10 and under,” Rabalais said.

Murphy said she would like to see the district require the masks as a part of the dress code.

“They can require us to not wear tank tops but they can’t require us to wear masks?” Murphy asked. “A tank top doesn’t hurt anybody but not wearing a mask would.”

Rabalais said the district considered requiring the masks as a part of the dress code but decided that would not be something they could enforce.

“What do you do if the student doesn’t want to wear a face mask?” she asked. “Do we send them home? Do you put them in in school suspension? And then we have parents coming to us and complaining that we are making their kids wear a face mask.”

Rabalais said the school board has adopted the requirements outlined by the state, county and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to make as many people happy as possible.

She said the district has seen just as many parents advocating for in-person schooling without masks as those calling for all online learning or a policy to require masks everywhere.

“If we require masks for all students, I can guarantee that we will have a student text their mother and then that mother will come up here and it will just blow up,” Rabalais said. “That’s why we thought we would just copy word for word what the government said. We can’t enforce masks where there is social distancing. There’s no way.”

She said Kennedale has asked other districts what they will do to enforce masking policies not backed up by state orders, but Kennendale adminstrators haven’t received any answers they feel would work.

Students do have the option of taking their classes online, but Murphy said that creates an inequality for some students who do not feel safe at school without a mask but don’t learn well online.

Students will be allowed to wear a mask all day, if they wish. There will be no rules prohibiting students from wearing masks.

Students will not return to campus until Sept. 28. and the district is also continuously updating their procedures for the return to school, Rabalais said. District officials are working on a plan to color code the risk factor and creating rules for higher-risk and lower-risk periods of time.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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