SAN ANTONIO — Northside ISD students and staff returned to class Friday with the expectation to wear masks indoors. Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods announced the temporary mask mandate earlier this week due to coronavirus concerns and absenteeism emerging out of winter break.
“The members of our Board and I do not make this decision lightly, but feel that we must use this tool given the current disruption to in-person learning. The mandate is driven by concerns for student and staff safety and is not motivated by the current legal battles on this issue,” Woods said in a message to families on Wednesday.
NISD experienced 20% of students and almost 15% of staff absent one week ago. District officials stressed not every absence was COVID-related.
The Northside American Federation of Teachers has been advocating for a mask mandate since the return from winter break.
“We are very encouraged by the district taking this initiative to try to slow the spread of COVID among our staff and students,” said Melina Espiritu-Azocar, Northside AFT lead organizer.
Northside AFT is pushing for the district to consider upgrading the masks worn by staff, which has been done by other school districts in Bexar County.
“We are advocating that the district purchase K-N95s for the staff for sure as we have seen the CDC recommend the use of KN95s or surgical masks and so we certainly want to follow the best practices and guidelines,” Espiritu-Azocar said.
NISD continues to perform routine sanitation at all campuses and offer free COVID testing at three sites adjacent to both Gus and Farris stadiums.
Dr. Woods strongly encourages everyone to research the vaccine if they haven’t gotten the jab.