Dozens marched in downtown Fort Worth on Saturday demanding the city’s school district to mandate mask requirements and a virtual learning option amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.
Around 40 Fort Worth parents and students gathered at the Tarrant County Courthouse asking the Fort Worth district board of trustees particularly board president Tobi Jackson to re-evaluate the mask requirements as well as to impose other safety measures in schools. Parents and students also want a virtual academy with teachers available online for all K-6 grade students.
The march was triggered after more than 1,000 district students, teachers, and support staff were quarantined after testing or being exposed to COVID-19, the Star Telegraph reported.
The board last Tuesday joined the La Joya school district in a lawsuit against Texas Governor Greg Abbott after he ordered school districts to stop requiring masks. Protesters said that the district must do something now with the mask requirements and other safety measures in schools.
In a board meeting last August 10, Superintendent Kent Scribner implemented a mask requirement for all students and employees, disregarding Abbott’s executive order. But three days later, District Judge John Chupp released a temporary restraining order to block Scribner’s authority after four Fort Worth parents complained.
The temporary restraining order would not apply if the board votes on a mandate, organizers of the protest believe.
Board member Roxanne Martinez expressed that that community is in danger without the implementation of COVID-19 protocols. “I’m here to protect kids,” Martinez said, adding: “I’m here to protect our community. We have to do that together.”
The protesters marched along Main Street and Houston street, chanting that board president Jackson should cast a vote.
In a tweet last Friday, Board member Jacinto Ramos said that he asked Jackson to add an agenda item on the subject of masks mandate. Ramos said it isn’t in the Tuesday agenda but will be on the August 26 meeting. Protesters said they are looking into attending upcoming board meetings.