Beaumont — It’s the return to school for the the nearly 17-thousand students in the largest school district in Southeast Texas.
The Beaumont Independent School District welcomed back students and staff for in-person learning. It comes with the city and surrounding areas seeing a wave of new covid-19 infections.
The district does not currently have a mask mandate in place and some parents have voiced concern
“I do believe virtual learning should be reinstated and the mask mandate also,” said Derril Vallery, parent.
Kenneth Coleman, Beaumont Health Director, says there are real concerns as students and teachers head back to school, and says the numbers prove it.
The week of December 7 through the 13 — just 63 cases were reported in Beaumont.
From December 21 through the 27, cases jumped to just below one thousand at 927.
“It’s been a huge increase in a number of cases and so is real concerning for public health as a whole,” said Coleman.
In a statement Monday, BISD encouraged students and staff to wear masks because of the increase of positive cases due to the new variant.”
It adds, “if the data we collect suggests an increase and thresholds are exceeded, our superintendent, Dr. Shannon Allen, has the authority to issue a mask mandate for the district.”
Coleman says not only would the mask mandate help mitigate new infections, but vaccines would help boost protection.
“Because what impacts schools is the staff. When you have certain amount of teachers out, then you would have to close that school we still have so many people that’s unvaccinated. And we still have a lot of kids that unvaccinated and then we have a lot of kids school aged kids who are not age eligible to become vaccinated,” added Coleman.
BISD has a covid tracker on its website to let families know the status of covid cases among schools. The tracker currently shows 62 cases as of Monday.
The district says it will be monitoring the next few days and weeks carefully to determine the next course of action and whether it should reinstate a mask mandate.
Written by Rocio De La Fe
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