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Nacogdoches ISD board to meet Tuesday for mask mandate discussion

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 8:28 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Nacogdoches ISD has called a special meeting for Tuesday at noon to discuss mask mandates. It will begin in executive session to consult with the school district’s attorney and reopen at 1 p.m., according to the agenda posted inside the district’s website.

Nacogdoches ISD is one of many school districts that has not enacted a mask mandate. The governor has said they cannot. The state supreme court has yet to make a final decision. Some school districts have done so anyway, and are challenging Governor Abbott’s executive order. Some parents feel caught in the middle. One parent pulled his son out of school over the lack of masks.

Fifth grader Harry Ruckel is learning about decimals. Watching over his shoulder is not a teacher, but rather his dad, Damon Ruckel.

“There you go. Good job, bud,” said Ruckel to his son.

On Wednesday Ruckel picked up Harry, requested his Chromebook, and lesson plans with no explanation to accommodating educators.

“What we’re doing is kind of ‘rogue virtual learning’,” said Ruckel.

“Rogue” because at the time Governor Greg Abbott had yet to sign a bill that funds virtual learning. That may change, but what remains is NISD has yet to enact a mask mandate.

“We appealed to the school board to hold an emergency meeting on requiring a mask mandate and that was little over 2 weeks ago and they have not acted yet,” said Ruckel.

Over time, the district’s Covid-19 dashboard showed an increasing number of cases among staff and students. People are getting sick. Something noticed by father and son.

“More sickness and death. Harry also began noticing there were a lot of maskless, sick students coughing all over each other,” shared Ruckel.

Harry came home with concerns.

“If I stay in school too long, I think, I might get sick because there are a lot of people not wearing masks.”

Hearing that is all it took for Ruckel to bring his son home.

“But it’s not sustainable because I have to get back to work and Harry is going to get his best education in the classroom,” knows Ruckel.

Ruckel and parents propose to the school board a 10-day school shutdown and reopening with a mask mandate.

“Whatever they do they’re going to make half the people mad, which means they really need to make a decision not based on what’s popular, but on what is right. And what the data shows us, is that a mask mandate is what is right.”

The Texas Education Agency recommends public schools to consult with local public health authorities and local legal counsel before making their final decision.

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