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Commerce School Board Votes Against Mask Mandate

Commerce public schools do not require students or staff to wear face coverings.
Commerce public schools do not require students or staff to wear face coverings.

The Commerce Independent School District Board of Trustees rejected a proposed mask mandate at a special meeting of the board last Thursday evening.

Board member Dr. LaVelle Hendricks introduced a motion that would have required students in third grade and above and all CISD staff to wear masks. The motion was defeated by a 4-2 vote. Hendricks and Dr. Ray Green voting for the measure, while board president Kathleen Hooten, Gabe Wittkopf, Kelsey Lytle and Doc Pierce all voted against the motion.

During the meeting, Hooten reminded the board of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates by local entities such as counties and school districts, according to a CISD news release about the meeting.

Hendricks, using a phrase popularized by former Congressman John Lewis, said we need to "get into good trouble" by challenging policy that’s not in the public’s interest, the release said.

The Aug. 26 special meeting of the board was called specifically to review and address the COVID situation at CISD campuses.

Superintendent Charlie Alderman said four district staff had tested positive for COVID, and that the district continues to follow the governor’s executive order mandating regular testing of staff in close contact with students, the CISD release said. Alderman also said that testing kits throughout the region are in short supply, and that additional kits promised by the state had not arrived as of Thursday evening, the release said.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.