KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
March 23, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
The Katy ISD Board of Trustees met last night in a special meeting to discuss the budget and staffing. Community members protested outside and spoke at the meeting opposing children wearing masks in the schools. The Board also approved an extended staff and student holiday on Monday, April 5.
Katy Parents Gather at Meeting in Peaceful Protest
29 Katy parents (and one grandmother) gathered at the Kat ISD School Board meeting last night with signs. They were ready to discuss their belief that wearing masks in schools should be the parents’ choice.
The protestors were allowed to enter the Katy ISD Educational Support Complex, 6301 South Stadium Lane, and attend the Board meeting without wearing masks. At least a dozen held signs protesting masks in schools. Some messages equated mask wearing to child abuse.
The protest was organized through the Freedom Matters Action Group. Bonnie Anderson, a Katy mom and candidate in the upcoming school board election, also told concerned families with whom she spoke, to attend the meeting and be heard.
“We all had our masks, just in case,” says Bonnie Anderson. “The chairs were completely spread apart, so we were able to social distance from other groups. The 29 of us made a choice to not wear masks around each other.”
As is the case with all Board meetings, the Katy ISD Police Department was present and reportedly didn’t say anything to the protestors not wearing masks.
Anderson was inspired to run for office based on the reaction of her kids and how they are handling ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols. She has addressed the Board at seven different meetings and filed two grievances with the Board.
Aside from a few “thank yous” and generic statements that they are looking into her concerns, Anderson says she has heard very little from the current Board.
“I became aware of the lack of access we have to our elected officials,” says Anderson on her decision to run in the May election.
The Board allows for 10 speakers at each meeting. Last night, 9 of the 10 speakers were part of the protesting group. All of the protesters were allowed in though.
Anderson is a firm believer that parents should make the choice on whether their student should wear a mask or not.
“I don’t know why I picked this to be my hill to die on, but I did,” says Anderson. “It speaks to my heart.”
Katy ISD currently follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and TEA guidelines requiring all staff and students wear face coverings. As of now, all neighboring school districts are requiring the same.
According to their site, the Freedom Matters Action Group is organizing a peaceful protest at the next Lamar Consolidated school board meeting.
To Mask or Not to Mask?
The debate calls for great discussion on both sides.
“If masks are not required at Katy ISD, I will have to reconsider unenrolling my student,” says Katy mom Chancie Davis. “Masks have been worn all year without issue. Students and teachers have followed it so great at the elementary level and it makes sense to end the year following the same protocols.”
Katy ISD continues to move forward, working hard to support all who rely on it no matter where they fall on this ongoing debate.
“This past year, almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives has changed due to the pandemic, and I am grateful for the way we have pulled together to effectively serve and support the learning needs of our more than 85,000 students districtwide,” says Gregorski.
Katy ISD Families Get 4-Day Weekend
Katy ISD students returned from spring break yesterday, marking the 122nd day of school. In a statement sent out to all staff and families, Katy ISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski reflected on the outstanding performance of the District.
“It’s been a long road — one that is deserving of pause and reflection,” says Gregorski.
In response, the Board discussed and approved Gregorski’s recommendation for a student and staff holiday on Monday, April 5. Katy ISD staff and students already have off April 2, which is Good Friday. This change to the instructional calendar gives staff and students a four-day weekend for Easter break.
“This year, our school district is in the rare position of being able to meet the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) instructional minutes requirement, without having to use the extra days embedded in our school calendar for emergency events. It is because of this that such a recommendation was possible,” explains Gregorski.
Although the District had to close school for a week due to the devastation of the recent winter storms, students will not have to make up those days.