Above, the San Marcos Consolidated ISD Board of Trustees discusses the district's mask mandate. The board voted to approve the mandate's continuation through the start of spring break, which begins on Friday, March 11. Screenshot from SMCISD YouTube
SMCISD’s mask mandate to continue following board approval
San Marcos Consolidated ISD’s mask mandate will continue until at least spring break.
The SMCISD Board of Trustees approved the mandate’s continuation, beginning Tuesday and stretching until spring break, which begins on Friday, March 11. The approved motion makes the mask mandate fall into the discretion of Superintendent Michael Cardona when the current time span ends.
“I mean [the mandate would be in place] until the time that we dismiss on the Friday before spring break and then at that point, [if] the superintendent believes that masks are still necessary when students and teachers return from spring break then he would have the authority to continue to implement it until which time the board meets and can reconsider whether or not we need to continue.” Trustee Anne Halsey said. “Or we can start, God-willing there’s a miracle and we can start lifting restrictions.”
The trustees approved the original mask mandate in a special-called meeting on Aug. 12, 2021. The board’s decision came amid a rise in COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant. Coronavirus cases have once again seen an increase during the spread of the omicron variant.
According to SMCISD’s COVID-19 dashboard, the district reported 58 new cases among staff and 191 new cases among students during the week of Jan. 10-14. SMCISD reported 78 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday — 52 among students and 26 among faculty and staff members. Hays County has recorded 8,910 COVID-19 cases over the past 21 days. The county considers 5,890 cases currently active.
The current mask mandate requires masks to be worn in all SMCISD facilities. Alongside masks, the district has continued with its safety measures, which include social distancing, vaccinating and testing. Approximately 83% of SMCISD employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, said Doug Wozniak, SMCISD Director of Safety and Health Services, during a Facebook live event hosted by the City of San Marcos on Jan. 14.
The mandate’s original passage included that it would be reconsidered during the board’s January regular meeting.
During discussion Tuesday, Trustee Kathy Hansen, who was the sole no vote against the mandate in August, said she would vote for the mandate as long as the district keeps all of its COVID-19 protocols in place.
Trustee Miguel Arredondo thanked Cardona for an increase in communication regarding the district’s mask mandate. But he also asked if more events could be offered virtually.
“I’ve seen on a number of platforms both direct communication to parents or on social media, a number of meetings that are characterized as mandatory for parents to attend and those are in-person,” Arredondo said. “If possible, I would appreciate if your staff would provide virtual options for those who wish to not attend in-person meetings. I understand that we have masks and we’re doing our best to enforce that, but if in addition to that we can provide virtual opportunities for parents and even students in these meetings that are characterized as mandatory so that they have an additional option, if they so choose, to stay home and stay safe as they best as see fit.”
The motion to approve the mask mandate until the beginning of spring break passed unanimously.