One Texas Town, Two School Districts, Clashing Mask Policies: How Science and Politics Collided in New Braunfels’ Classrooms
In what quickly became a conversation about science, personal liberty, and the role of government, the town’s two school boards, New Braunfels ISD and Comal ISD, landed on opposite sides of the face covering debate earlier this month after Gov. Greg Abbott announced the statewide mask mandate would end March 10.
In New Braunfels ISD, which serves more low income and Latino students, the school board opted to survey parents, resulting in a vote to keep the school mask mandate. The Comal ISD board, representing whiter, more rural parts of Comal county voted 5-2 in an eleventh hour meeting to make masks voluntary after members touted personal responsibility and parental choice. One Comal ISD board member, Marty Bartlett, cited the arguments of well-known conspiracy theorists and vaccine skeptics who say masks are government overreach, not sound science.
The mask battle in New Braunfels clearly has political overtones, but this isn’t your typical liberal vs. conservative fight. New Braunfels sits on the southeastern edge of Comal County, whose residents gave Donald Trump 70% of the vote in November.
In this case the fight is more about moderate conservatives vs. those on the far right.