Beginning on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, Lufkin ISD will return to a mask mandate for all staff and students from grades Pre-K to 12. Yesterday, the district had the highest single-day positive Covid-19 cases prompting the district to take action to mitigate the virus.
“With the rise in the number of cases on our campuses, this move is a necessary safety precaution to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with emphasis on the Delta variant. While I might wish that the state government would have provided schools with more guidance and support, ultimately these matters are better handled at the local level rather than through a one-size-fits-all approach from the state,” said Lynn Torres, Lufkin ISD Superintendent.
According to Dr. Jeff Glass, Pediatrician at The Children’s Clinic, fourteen schools in the East Texas area have closed. Although the Lufkin ISD administration doesn’t anticipate a district closing; if the cases continue to rise, individual campuses may need to be closed.
“We need to go back to what worked last year, which was universal masking. I’ve yet to meet a student who is anti-mask. They just want to be in school,” said Dr. Glass.
As reported by the CDC Data Tracker, the virus transmission rates for Angelina County are listed as high with 564 active cases identified as of today.
“Many of these cases are showing up in our schools through both staff and students. I do not feel that we can wait any longer to protect our staff and students. We will follow the CDC advice for who should wear a mask to protect everyone from the Delta variant even if students and staff are fully vaccinated. Remember that a great majority of our student population is not eligible to receive the vaccination because they are under 12 years of age. We will do what is necessary to protect them,” said Torres.
Last week the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees approved a vaccination incentive of $500 for all staff who were fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021. To encourage staff to receive the vaccination, there will be a district vaccination clinic. Staff are also reminded that vaccinations are available daily at multiple locations in our community.
“We will revisit this mandate within 45 days to assess the local infection rates and the number of cases to see when this mandate might be lifted in the future,” said Torres.
Masks will be highly recommended at athletic events and events that are open to the public. Students and staff will be required to bring their own masks, but masks will be provided in case of an emergency.