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Marlin ISD enforces mask mandate after reporting COVID-19 cases

Marlin ISD has become the first school district in Central Texas to mandate face masks.

MARLIN, Texas — Marlin Independent School District is already on its third week of school, but starting Monday there were some changes around the district.

The first two weeks of school the district strongly encouraged masks but now they are required for students, staff and visitors in all district buildings and vehicles.

The face covering requirement is part of the school district's "enhanced COVID-19 mitigation," which also includes testing for the virus, high-contact surface disinfecting, vaccine clinic collaborations, contact tracing and enhanced screening.  

The parents 6 News did talk to tell us they are happy about the mask mandate and it is "the best thing Marlin could have done." The majority of them see it as the district making student's health a priority.

"If it's going to say anything, I think that it says that we are trying to keep our kids safe which is really important I think and what everyone should want," a mother of two Marlin ISD students.

After only two weeks of school, Marlin ISD Superintendent Dr. Darryl Henson says there have already been some scares, Marlin High School has 9 positive COVID-19 cases in nine days.

Being a smaller school district, school officials worry about what could happen if they had a large outbreak.

"With Marlin being a smaller community about 25 miles outside of Waco, it was important that we protect the entire community, knowing that a lot of our staff members and students, they are family, they are family friends," Dr. Henson explained.

The district is hopeful the masks and other protocols under it's enhanced COVID-19 mitigation will give them a security blanket, but it will only be successful if people follow it and with no major consequences for not wearing a mask -- it's up in the air.

"So for students who are not going to follow the mask mandate, we're going to overly encourage them to still cover their face," said Dr. Henson. "It's all about health, we're not trying to be punitive but the important thing is the health and well being of our students, faculty and their families."

Dr. Henson says the district is watching data day to day, week to week to decide its COVID-19 protocol. If they feel they can lift the enhanced COVID-19 mitigation they will do so but as of now there is no time limit for their current protocols.