MISD Removes Mask Protocol, Announces Virtual Academy

Photo by Bud Nug on Unsplash

Photo by Bud Nug on Unsplash

On May 11, Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Cantu announced the return to normal protocols after a school year with safety precautions.

The decision makes masks optional, eliminates the one-way hallways and removes cafeteria table dividers. However, the district intends to continue to disinfect MISD campuses regularly. In the event of another spike in cases, principal Dr. Shelly Butler plans on returning to COVID-19 protocols.

“I believe MISD will allow staff members to still wear masks or shields if they want to. It will be up to the individual worker to make the decision for themselves,” Dr. Butler said. “We are hopeful that everyone will be safe and take care of themselves over the summer break so that we can come back in person with no restrictions.”

For some students, the mask has become a regular part of their daily routines while others have abandoned it in instances where they do not have to wear it. With many students getting the vaccine, the need for the mask has declined. Junior Lisa Orie feels unsure with the decision.

“Taking masks off will definitely feel a bit odd. I know that many people are eager to stop wearing them, but it’s become so normal for me so I’m having mixed feelings,” Orie said. “Some people never followed the pandemic safety protocol so I don’t feel completely safe. However, I know that we’ve come a long way since the height of COVID and I find comfort in that.”

Additionally, the creation of a virtual academy is currently in development. The academy would host grades 5-12 in the upcoming school year. Students must apply to be selected into the school, as there are few spots available per grade. The academy does not offer AP or advanced classes or extracurricular activities. Orie remained virtual throughout the entirety of the school year and debated the advantages of enrolling in the school.

“I think that MISD creating the virtual academy for next year is a great attempt at giving students an option post COVID-19,” Orie said. “But I also don’t think taking away AP classes and extracurriculars is completely fair just because those are both such essential parts of high school and college. This makes students feel like in-person school is their only option.”

The state of Texas is yet to approve plans for the virtual academy, however Butler remains hopeful of its possible benefits on students.

“I believe it will help fill a need for families that like having the virtual option for a multitude of reasons. Medical concerns, flexibility, etc. are all reasons families would select the virtual academy option for learning next year,” Dr. Butler said.