By Staff

LEWISVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Masks are strongly encouraged, but not required for Lewisville ISD students and staff.

A group of parents expressed their concern during a school board meeting on Monday night, August 30.

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The first few days of school, the district reported 24 COVID-19 cases. The second week, 276.

Now, almost 400 COVID-19 cases have been reported.

“I’m really, really concerned just because it just keeps going higher and higher and no one has masks on,” Marcus High School 9th Grader Chelimo Reber said. “There’s people who aren’t vaccinated. Even some of my friends, their parents won’t let them get vaccinated.”

Reber and her father joined dozens of parents pushing for a district-wide mask mandate, which was not up for discussion at the meeting.

“I’m really concerned, not only for my daughters, but the community at large,” Shane Reber said.

Lewisville ISD parents who want mask mandate (Erin Jones – CBS 11).

A spokesperson for the district says masks are requested for students and staff, but not required due to legal reasons.

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There are several pending cases in Texas challenging Governor Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.

“Listen to the health experts,” parent Michelle Cassidy said. “This isn’t a political matter.”

“We need to tell the Governor no we’re going to mandate masks,” Shane said.

Some parents want a virtual option.

The district said there’s currently no virtual option in place because “taking away resources from in-person learning to create a very limited virtual learning program does not seem feasible or sustainable at this time.”

However, enhanced cleaning measures, social distancing and a TEA approved quarantine and contact tracing measures are in place.

“If we look at the cases in rising numbers in LISD we’re headed for a major crisis,” parent Beth Sharma said.

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This is the district’s full statement in response to concerns from parents:

“From the electro-static cleaning of desks to stand alone air purification units in elementary classrooms, sixth-grade classrooms and middle school lunch rooms, LISD is doing all it can to provide a safe learning environment for all its students in the midst of a global pandemic. It is certainly a challenging situation for our students, staff and families, and we understand the frustration some of our families are expressing. LISD continues to closely monitor a variety of factors across the district and at individual campuses, and is updating procedures and practices to be responsive to needs all the way down to a specific classroom.

LISD continues to strongly encourage masking in our schools. This is certainly not an issue of the district being anti-mask or anti-mask mandate. It is about following the law, which the district believes is the appropriate approach. We will let the court challenges play out and then make decisions once there is clear legal guidance in place.

Offering virtual learning is a much more complex situation than just hiring more teachers, or allocating more money for virtual learning.

If the district made the decision to offer virtual learning, a very small number of students would be accommodated. In-person class sizes would increase, current class schedules and teachers would be adjusted, and additional teachers would need to be hired. Like most surrounding districts, LISD is still trying to fill teaching vacancies, without factoring the additional teachers needed for a virtual program into our hiring plans.

Taking away resources from in-person learning to create a very limited virtual learning program does not seem feasible or sustainable at this time. We have analyzed this extensively and are prioritizing in-person learning.

LISD is following TEA guidelines for quarantine. Students and staff with a positive case are required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms OR 10 days from a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test.

It would be a misleading interpretation of the data to just look at the numbers themselves without factoring in the collection method behind them, and say there was a significant increase from week one to week two. A more appropriate comparison will be between week two and week three. Week one data reflects a period where students were in class for three days and the tracker only shows positive cases of students who attended school that week.” Staff