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MARY MEAUX — Use common courtesy in new era of “masks or no masks”

The mask issue is once again at the forefront as local businesses and school districts decide how to proceed in a pandemic after the governor’s lifting of the mask mandate took effect this week.

While wearing a mask in certain settings such as in stores, government buildings and schools is no longer required, it may be requested.

It’s time for a compromise.

There has been so much divide on this topic in our communities, and it’s just plain mean and ugly at times. We are taught the golden rule “do unto others,” but some have added a coda to the symphony that is life in the time of COVID.

But I digress.

Some local businesses are now asking customers to be respectful of their decisions regarding the issue. The Avenue Coffee & Café in Port Neches is one of them. They announced on their Facebook page earlier this week their team will continue with the same safety protocols of wearing a mask and social distancing.

“Our friends, neighbors, and patrons will have a choice and our only ask is to be respectful of our decision and the decisions of the people around you. We are taking this one day at a time as we have since last March and are all eager to find some normalcy in the future.

Thank you all for being patient, kind, and oh so supportive of our venture to grow the community and offer something unique to Southeast Texas,” the post read.

The Kids’ Kloset in Nederland will modify the sign on the front door to request, not require, customers wear a mask at all times due to owner Kittie Kay’s health problems.

Kay will continue to wear a mask, she said.

Evy Knight, owner of Twisted Gypsy, will also continue to wear a mask. Her decision to continue wearing a mask is because her husband has been in the intensive care unit at a Houston hospital for two weeks after a routine procedure using dye in his system went wrong and sent him into kidney failure.

On Wednesday he was able to return home but is still very weak, Knight said.

Local school districts Port Arthur, Nederland and Port Neches-Groves continue to require all individuals to wear masks for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

The PNG district issued a statement saying masks are a mitigating factor and have prevented the disruption of day-to-day operations and extracurricular activities. In addition, the safety protocols have prevented major COVID spikes in their schools and have helped keep their doors open.

Other districts issued similar messages.

Vidor Independent School District in Orange County is one of the only area districts to remove the mask ordinance for students and staff, and while they are strongly recommended, they are not required.

When out and about please be aware of the recommendations of the places you visit and please, be kind to others.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com.