Texas Students Walk Out Over Lacking COVID-19 Precautions
Students in a Central Texas school district staged a walk-out on Thursday, January 20, 2022, in an effort to improve the district's COVID-19 response policies.
The walkout, which stretched across multiple Round Rock Independent School District campuses, was the follow-up effort after students created a petition for improved COVID-19 rules across the district. The morning before the walkout, that petition had gained over 1,700 signatures from students in Round Rock ISD and 400 signatures from parents and faculty.
Students who joined the walkout left class between 10 and 10:30 AM on Thursday. According to organizers, walking out after 10 AM allowed Round Rock ISD to collect appropriate funding for the day due to the Texas Education Agency's policy of attendance-based funding.
While some students went directly home, others at Cedar Ridge High School and Round Rock High School stayed behind in designated protest spots in the freezing weather.
For students, the walkout centers on Round Rock ISD increasing efforts to keep students, staff, and families safe as COVID-19 cases tick upward. The petition asks the district to do the following:
- Reinstate contact tracing and notify close contacts. Round Rock ISD currently only offers tracing and contacts parents of children at the elementary level, not the middle and high schools.
- Enforcement of the mask mandate. The district maintains that a mask mandate is in place for all students and faculty, but students claim that too many students and faculty have opted out of the policy.
- Provide KN95 or N95 masks in schools for every student. These masks are currently the ideal standard for preventing the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
- Provide rapid or PCR tests every two weeks for everyone on campus. Round Rock ISD does have some testing available to students at the district, but it is only available at a single district facility.
- All students are provided outdoor spaces to eat, even in inclement weather. Outdoor spaces allow students and faculty to socially distance themselves when activities like mealtime inhibit masking.