During the first day of school in Killeen ISD, a group of community leaders with the Bell County Democratic Party protested outside the administration building urging school officials to enact a mask mandate.
“We think this is really an emergency," said Bell County Democratic Party Chair Bill Rosenburg. "We are just thoroughly disappointed in KISD’s reaction."
Several Killeen parents and guardians agree.
“I would never tell nobody to dismiss their superior but when it comes to life, many of us send our babies to school [and] when they are not with us it is your job to cover them," said Vernell Mack who has grandchildren in KISD.
It comes after several other school districts including Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Fort Worth decided to enact mask mandates, despite Governor Abbott’s executive order.
The Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked the mandates in Dallas and Bexar counties during a ruling on Sunday, but some believe KISD should still do one.
“When any health crisis happens that can affect society at large, you have to act responsible for society," said Rosenburg. "At some point personal rights are not absolute.”
KISD said it will still be following the Governor’s order.
“It’s something where it’s a personal choice," said Taina Maya, the KISD chief communications and marketing officer. "We support everybody’s individual choice to be able to wear a mask if they wish too."
Governor Abbott announced the Supreme Court’s decision on Twitter this weekend to impose a temporary halt to lower court decisions that out-ruled the state’s ban on mask mandates.
KISD officials said they are following many COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including heavy sanitizing of their facilities and hand washing.
Protesters were also calling for the state to reopen virtual learning for families that do not want to send their kids back to the classroom.