Debate continues over whether kids, teachers should be required to wear masks in Texas schools

The debate over mask mandates in schools has once again been reignited after the CDC's recommendation to have all students and teachers mask up.

In Texas, mask requirements for public schools are banned, but private schools can choose to make masks mandatory.

The CDC is advising all students to wear masks, but here in Texas, the governor continues to make clear that there will not be a mandate for students.

Back to school time is around the corner, so First United Methodist Church of Rockwall is giving away fresh gear to 1,000 students and families in need.

"As they make those bigger decisions about what do I do about going back to school with the COVID and the Delta variant," said First United Methodist Church of Rockwall Reverend Sandy Heard.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky spoke with Friday, as cases and hospitalizations from the COVID-19 Delta variant continue to rise.

"Over the summer, we’ve had numerous summer school outbreaks," she said. "So my primary goal is to get all our kids back, in person, safely, for full-time learning."

There were mixed feelings from parents who spoke with FOX 4 at a back to school drive in Richardson on Saturday.

"I want him to wear mask," Mavis Owusu said.

"Everything is opened up in Texas, so I do feel comfortable with him not wearing a mask," Diana Vijil said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said kids will not be forced to wear masks by the government or by a school. Parents, however, can make that decision for their kids. 

"Be safe. That’s what I want for them," Gilbert Beltran said.

Some kids don’t seem to mind having to wear a mask.

"You know, this is for my own protection," Richardson High School senior Sarah Bekeli.

Still, they feel there’s a sense of confusion surrounding masks.

"Especially with like the CDC and all of that. They want us to wear a mask and keep wearing that, even though it’s not required," Bekeli added.

"We want to make sure that our kid’s stay in school, wearing a mask," the CDC director said.

In the meantime, while parents decide what message to send their children, organizations across North Texas are giving what they can to families in need, in hopes of taking a bit of stress off their shoulders.

"Backpacks and fresh school supplies and news shoes on their feet as they start the school year," Heard said.

First United Methodist Church of Rockwall has been putting their back to school event on for nearly two decades. 

It had to hit pause last year during the pandemic. 

Any student in Rockwall County who qualifies for a reduced lunch was able to sign up for free gear.