PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Monday, the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District held a board meeting and unanimously passed a resolution asking Governor Greg Abbott to allow PSJA ISD to enforce masks and provide virtual learning.
“It’s just not safe for our kids,” said one parent in the public comment section of the board meeting. “A school teacher came in here mask-less and spoke to y’all, then sat down right next to me.”
Board members expressed their concerns and supported the idea that the local school district should have the ability to decide to enforce COVID-19 safety precautions.
“If we are truly concerned about the welfare of our staff and our students, then we shouldn’t be afraid of what our state office is telling us,” said PSJA ISD board member Carlos Villegas Jr.
With summer enrichment programs ongoing, superintendent Dr. Jorge Arredondo said there are 6,000 kids currently on campuses, and there have already been confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“We had 17 cases last week, we are a district of 32,000, and last week we took in 6,000 students,” said Arredondo.
Arredondo also said they will be checking temperatures, providing rapid tests, and conducting contact tracing.
One PSJA parent of four, Suezanna Garcia, said she believes the younger ones should be able to stay home.
“I am having concerns with my two youngest that are 8 and a 4-year-old who are not able to get the vaccine,” said Garcia.
Garcia also said she has two older sons, one is 15 and has had liver surgery. she said he is more at risk if he tests positive for COVID-19.
“Us parents should have a choice of keeping them home,” said Garcia.
Some school districts in Texas have already decided on making masks mandatory, but PSJA ISD said they do not want to break ties with Abbott.
“But we felt that it was really important for us here in the Phar-Alamo-San Juan community to keep those lines of communications open with the governor, given that opportunity, before we enter into any litigation,” said Arredondo.
Arredondo said they have not yet heard from the office of the governor.