This Texas school district is the antithesis of the establishment media’s past year of work.
Peaster Independent School District, a rural school district in North Texas, never required its students to social distance or wear masks in school and has been performing fine, according to KTVT-TV.
Despite holding homecoming on time, never distancing students in-classroom and never mandating masks, according to Superintendent Lance Johnson, the 2020-21 school year has had higher enrollment and higher average attendance than the last year.
Johnson told KTVT, “Our kids have thrived and our teachers have thrived. And it’s just been real eye-opening to see how we’ve done things different than other schools.”
The superintendent has been in multiple calls with school district officials who are wondering how the 1,400-student district was able to maintain regular procedures, in contrast with many other public schools.
“It’s real simple. We’ve just done it,” Johnson said. “It’s not that difficult if you really put the needs of kids first.”
PISD surveyed parents and students on what form of instruction they would be most comfortable with after experimenting with virtual schooling. Fifty-five percent of families responded that they would send their students to school if masks and social distancing if required at all grade levels, which rose to 86 percent under the condition that school would be as close to pre-coronavirus instruction as possible.
Johnson said the community “just stood in solidarity,” deciding to “do what’s best for kids.” He continued, “And what’s best for kids is having them in school, learning, in a traditional school model.”
PISD schools returned on time in August, allowing students to wear masks. According to Johnson, if students weren’t wearing masks, it was assumed they were under a medical or religious exemption.
Johnson told KTVT that there were no COVID-19 cases in the first 10 weeks of school, although cases did begin to surface during the fall among staff and students. He estimated that there were roughly 10 cases, but acknowledged that more may have gone unreported.
The district faced heavy criticism for the decision, including a complaint sent to the Texas Education Agency.
Johnson believes the current conditions students are forced to learn under would be considered evil under other circumstances.
“Eighteen months ago what we’re doing to kids would’ve been criminal. And here we are fighting going back to that model, fighting, letting kids be kids and letting kids socialize and letting them have a normal school year.”
The approach Johnson’s district took has also been indirectly supported by many. USA Today published an opinion piece Tuesday written by four researchers who said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention misrepresented their data. The researchers argued that keeping schools closed is harming children.
The study found that, with over 92 percent of students wearing masks, only seven students contracted coronavirus.
The doctors wrote for USA Today that “France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium have demonstrated that K-12 schools can remain fully open safely” despite the United Kingdom variant’s rising prominence.
As much as establishment media may try to paint reopening schools as anti-science, the data shows that reopening has been scientifically proven to be safe for students and staff. Combining the research of Hoeg and others with anecdotal success stories like Peaster ISD, there’s only one reasonable move for American schools to make, and it’s to reopen.
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