AUSTIN, Texas — As the 2021-22 school year approaches, you may be wondering if your child will have to wear a mask at school, especially as coronavirus cases are rising in Central Texas.
The City of Austin and Travis County issued an order Wednesday, Aug. 11, requiring people wear a mask inside government buildings and schools.
However, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in July restating that government entities, including school districts, can't require or mandate masks.
Austin Public Health Travis County said they “strongly recommend” all children under 12 years old continue to wear masks at school until a vaccine for their age range is approved.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending anyone over the age of two wear a mask at school, even if you’re fully vaccinated. This is a bit different from the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. The CDC said earlier in July that vaccinated students and staff don’t need to wear masks.
The CDC changed course in late July on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.
A list of school districts and their current decision on masking policies is below:
Austin ISD will require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks, beginning on Aug. 11.
"We will work on a case-by-case basis with those students and their families to ensure every school is safe and following safety protocols," the district said regarding parents who wish to not mask their children.
Del Valle ISD:
Del Valle ISD adopted a mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors on Thursday evening.
Dripping Springs ISD:
Dripping Springs ISD will be mask-optional during the 2021-22 school year, per Abbott's executive order. The school district's complete COVID-19 guidance, updated on Aug. 6, is available on its website.
The Eanes Independent School District is requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks on campus, but principals and teachers are not required to enforce the mask mandate.
In an email to staff obtained by KVUE Sept. 15, the district wrote that it is “strongly encouraging mask wearing” instead of removing children who won’t wear one from class.
In late October, the district said school assemblies will be allowed but at a gradual pace with students in smaller groups. Booster clubs can also hold in-person meetings as long as there is a virtual option for those who would prefer to attend from home. Masks are still required in school buildings.
On Aug. 16, Elgin ISD announced that masks would be required for all students, staff and campus visitors.
Florence ISD is working on finalizing its Safe Return to School Plan.
The school district told KVUE that it is currently planning on making masks optional, but the plan is not set in stone.
Georgetown ISD is not requiring masks on campus during the 2021-22 school year.
"Right now, the plan is to follow the governor's mandate," Superintendent Fred Brent told KVUE Thursday. "There's a lot of things that [the] TEA or the governor mandated about public schools that I don't agree with – I don't know that I have the right to pick and choose which one of those I comply with. But right now, our board is concerned about safety and safety protocols. We're following those. But at this time, I don't, I do not see it in our position to go against the governor's mandate."
Hays CISD will not require masks for all student, staff and visitors in the fall after Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued an order on Friday, Aug. 13. The district sent KVUE the following statement:
"We continue to believe that without any way to enforce a mandate, saying we have a mandate is disingenuous – giving false hope to parents who would send their children to school with the expectation that all students will be in masks. The Hays County order’s enforcement provision is, 'Compliance with this Order is reliant on self-regulation and a community commitment to public health and safety under the threat of COVID-19.' Rather than go back and forth with a mandate or not, we will wait until we have a final decision from the Texas Supreme Court. We believe the Supreme Court will likely side with the governor and not allow local mandates. So, we are preparing for that likelihood. If the Supreme Court determines that local mandates are enforceable, we will look at our options at that point. We continue to urge parents to send their children to school in masks. We know wearing a mask is legal. We are just awaiting a ruling to determine whether not wearing a mask is legal."
Hutto ISD is no longer requiring masks. The school district said it decided to rescind its mask mandate after consulting legal counsel about a Texas Supreme Court ruling in Bexar County, according to an announcement on its website.
Hutto ISD still “strongly urges all staff and students to wear a mask” indoors or when social distancing can’t be maintained.
The district issued a mask mandate on Aug. 23.
IDEA Public Schools:
IDEA Public Schools is highly encouraging all students to wear a mask on campus and on the bus. However, they are not required.
KIPP Texas Public Schools:
KIPP is recommending everyone wear a mask while on its campuses. KIPP told KVUE its Health & Safety Protocols are based on guidance from local and state health experts as well as the CDC.
Lake Travis ISD:
Lake Travis ISD said masks will be optional for staff, students and visitors.
"We encourage all families and staff members to make the best decision for themselves in deciding whether to wear one or not, and we expect all staff, students, and visitors to respect the choice of others," said Superintendent Paul Norton.
Lago Vista ISD:
Face coverings will not be required for students, staff and visitors at Lago Vista ISD, according to their website. The school district updated its safety plan on Aug. 10.
Superintendent Bruce Gearing announced that effective Oct. 13, the district is downgrading to the "yellow phase," which means that masks are recommended for everyone while indoors, the water fountain can be used as per usual and there are no limitations on the number of spectators at extracurricular events. Click here for more information.
The school district has three sets of COVID-19 protocols: Green, Yellow and Red. Under the Red guidelines, masks are required.
Lockhart ISD changed its mask policy on Sept. 4, requiring them to be worn. The district had previously said it was not requiring masks on campus, but mask-wearing is "welcomed and encouraged."
Manor ISD will enforce a mask mandate after conducting a survey. The district released the following statement on Aug. 13:
"Manor ISD wholeheartedly values the health and safety of our scholars and staff. It is important for us to always ensure that our scholars and staff are in a safe learning environment. On Thursday, August 12th, we surveyed parents to see who would make the personal decision to send their child to school wearing a face mask. Today, Friday, August 13th, we surveyed campus staff to see who would make a personal decision to wear a mask during the school day. Overwhelmingly, 85% of our parents and staff, respectively, said yes. To consider the desires of our community and staff, and in conjunction with the Austin/Travis County Health Authorities, we are implementing a mask mandate in all facilities and transportation throughout Manor ISD, effective Monday, August 16, 2021."
Marble Falls ISD:
At a Sept. 8 school board meeting, the Marble Falls ISD school board voted to rescind its mask mandate. The school district said in a statement that the board made the decision because the mask " issue deeply divides this community" and "last week when the mask mandate was put in place, District counsel indicated it was 'totally legal.'" Now that there is not a temporary injunction in place in the county, the district said the governor's executive order now has the force of law in Burnet County.
According to the district's safety guidelines on its website, masks are strongly encouraged for staff and students.
NYOS Charter School:
NYOS Charter School said it is "currently awaiting a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court" to decide how to move forward regarding Abbott and the City of Austin's conflicting orders.
It estimates 96% of students and staff are already regularly wearing faces masks on campus, according to a press release.
Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Doug Killian said the school district will require masks starting Monday, Aug. 16, in line with a district judge's temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order, allowing Travis County's mask mandate to proceed.
Killian said Pflugerville ISD is awaiting a final court decision and could change its mask requirements depending on the outcome.
"Thankfully, the vast majority of our students are already wearing masks to mitigate possible COVID spread," the district said as classes began on Aug. 16. "As we are dealing with students of various ages and situations, we are certainly not denying any student access to school. Should a student arrive without a mask, a mask will be provided for them."
Round Rock ISD:
On Aug. 17, Round Rock ISD announced that starting on Aug. 18, the district's first day of school, masks will temporarily be required at all RRISD schools and facilities. The requirement expired on Sept. 17, but the board voted to reinstate the requirement at a meeting on Sept. 22.
Under the new mask protocol, all students, teachers, staff members and adult visitors must wear masks on buses and while inside school buildings when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. Students and staff have the option to remove their masks while seated in cafeterias, staff lunchrooms and while outdoors. The requirement does not apply during athletics, fine arts and physical education classes unless deemed appropriate by the coach, director or instructor.
Parents have the option to opt their child out of the mask requirement if they have health or developmental circumstances.
San Marcos CISD
San Marcos CISD voted to approve a mask mandate Thursday evening.
Masks will be optional for students and staff members, according to Taylor ISD's website.
Facing coverings are optional for students, staff and visitors on Wimberley ISD campuses. The school district said it will continue to use its Safe Breathing Zone Units to filter indoor air.
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