Parents hold rally advocating for mask mandate or virtual learning option in Fort Worth ISD

The fight over having a mask mandate in place for Fort Worth ISD continues.

While there is a distinct divide in the district, a group of parents hosted a rally Saturday demanding board action to keep kids safe.

Many at the rally said they will not stop advocating for a mask mandate in Fort Worth ISD, as well as a virtual learning option for all students, not just younger students with medical conditions.

"Kids are going to get COVID and they are going to bring it home," said Roxanne Martinez, parent and Fort Worth ISD board member for District 9.

Martinez said, this week, she’s been forced to balance two roles. 

She’s a worried mother while also representing District 9 on the Fort Worth ISD school board. 

"I can’t sleep knowing we are sending kids back in an unsafe environment," she said.

Martinez made it known she disagrees with the district’s current policy by which masks are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.

Martinez protested alongside a group of parents Saturday evening demanding the district do more. 

High school teacher and parent Carrie English took to the steps of the Tarrant County courthouse with a sign in hand.

"It’s a minor inconvenience. I have been doing it for 8 hours a day, eating in my car to protect my students," English said.

Friday, Fort Worth ISD revealed more than 1,000 students and staff are in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 or having close contact with someone who did.

RELATED: More than 1,000 Fort Worth ISD students, staff in quarantine due to COVID-19

The debate over masks will once again be heard before the school board late next week. 

"There has to be room for people to opt out of masks," one parent said at last week’s meeting.

"I am imploring you, please protect our children," another parent said at last week’s meeting.

Fort Worth ISD is also preparing for legal action.

Tuesday, the board voted to join other Texas school districts in suing Governor Greg Abbott over his executive order banning mask mandates.

RELATED: Fort Worth ISD board votes to join mask mandate lawsuit against Gov. Abbott

"The board has been dealing with some legal challenges that would allow us to put in a mandate. We are currently working through that," Martinez said.

However, the district’s mask policy didn’t change. 

Some parents believe the choice should stay. 

"It is as much a right for your child to wear a mask as it is mine as a parent to decline on behalf of my child," Christopher Gallegos said.

According to the DFW Hospital Council, there were 67 pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Texas as of Saturday. 

The number has almost doubled since the beginning of August. 

Across the region, six staffed pediatric beds are available. 

Parent Courtney Wait fears, with school underway, the numbers will get worse,

"I will not be sending my child to school under these current conditions," Wait said.

There are two school board meetings next week. 

Tuesday, the board will vote on how to find a new virtual learning option targeted toward medically fragile students. 

Thursday, the board will take up the discussions of masks once again.