Town Square

How Do We Protect The Mental Health And Safety Of Children Going Back To School During A COVID Surge?

How are local schools preparing for the school year? What’s going on with several Texas school districts, including HISD, defying the Governor’s ban on mask mandates? And what does the medical community recommend?


In this Aug. 5, 2020, file photo, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID19, elementary school students use hand sanitizer before entering school for classes in Godley, Texas. In contrast to last fall, Texas school districts can no longer require masks when the academic year begins in August 2021 per an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott. A number of districts are defying Abbott’s order.


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Town Square with Ernie Manouse airs at 3 p.m. CT. Tune in on 88.7FM, listen online or subscribe to the podcast. Join the discussion at 888-486-9677, or @townsquaretalk.

We ask a lot of our teachers.

Each and every day, we basically hand our children over to them. And we assume they have the best interest of our children at heart.

We expect that they will teach them but also watch over them and keep them safe.

We expect that in a fire drill teachers will make sure they exit the building safely.

We expect that if there is a problem in class teacher will help to correct it.

We have faith that, at the end of the day, our children will be delivered back to us, just as happy and healthy as when we dropped them off in the morning, and hopefully better educated.

So why stop them now from protecting our children from the worst public health crisis of our generation?

Today, experts in COVID, education and mental health join us to discuss issues facing kids, parents and schools as the academic year begins – including stresses and anxieties, lack of mask mandates, updates on vaccines for young children and more.


Dr. Lokesh Shahani

  • Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School
  • Chief Medical Officer of UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center

Hany Khalil

  • Vice President of the Houston Federation of Teachers
  • Executive Director Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
  • Former social studies teacher in HISD for 9 years

Dr. Manuela Murray

  • Medical Director for Pediatric Urgent Care Centers
  • Ambulatory Operations and Co-Director for General Academic Pediatrics at UTMB Health

Hank Bostwick

  • Volunteer Center Coordinator for The Southern Center for Child Advocacy
  • The nonprofit education group filed a lawsuit Sunday night in Travis County against Abbott and his executive order prohibiting school districts from requiring masks.

Caroline Sweet

  • Austin school teacher who talked to her school board in favor of a mask mandate
  • Austin ISD announced late Monday the district will require face masks

Town Square with Ernie Manouse is a gathering space for the community to come together and discuss the day's most important and pressing issues.

Audio from today’s show will be available after 5 p.m. CT. We also offer a free podcast here, on iTunes, and other apps.


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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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