Arlington, Texas - Arlington Independent School District’s Board of Trustee members met on Thursday, August 19, 2021, to discuss and vote on a several agenda items. A large crowd of people showed up in person and virtually to speak for and against one major issue on the agenda.
During this meeting, the board would vote on if the school district can follow through with their lawsuit against Governor Gregg Abbott for his order to ban local school districts from mandating masks as students return to campus.
The meeting drew in people from all backgrounds, but mainly concerned parents showed up to speak. AISD teachers and students showed up to have their voices heard on the issue. With the mask mandate being such a controversial topic, audience members were sensitive towards speakers who agreed and disagreed with them. With more than 30 speakers coming to the mic and joining virtually, this meeting came with many layers. Trustee Melody Fowler voted to table the motion, meaning voting on the issue would be suspended and brought back later to discuss. This move by Fowler caused more layers to the meeting as the other trustees had to vote on whether to table the motion or not.
After listening to the public for over an hour, the board voted 5-2 in favor of tabling the lawsuit discussion for good and not imposing a mask mandate at this time. President Kecia Mays and Trustee Justin Chapa were the two votes against the rest of the board. Board member David Wilbanks voted for tabling the motion despite being in favor of a mask mandate. Scott Hanaya, a second-grade parent, expressed his support for a virtual option for Arlington students.
“Dallas ISD announced that they would be doing a 90-day virtual program for children 11 years and younger. I would love for AISD to come up with something similar to that, so parents have more choices.“
He also said how virtual learning helped his child learn time management and personal responsibility.
Later in the meeting, the board unanimously voted to allow students pre-k to sixth-grade temporary virtual learning and start contact-tracing again. Dunn Elementary school nurse Wimberly Mills said, “contact tracing was a nightmare and produced very little benefit.” During her speaking time, she talked about being in favor of people choosing to wear a mask or not.
Sarah McMurrough, a newly elected board member, encouraged the district to recommend mask but not enforce a mandate. This meeting started an hour late and lasted for over 4 hours.
Arlington ISD school board meetings are at the Administration Building located off Pioneer Parkway every other Thursday, beginning at 6:00 p.m.