Georgetown ISD officials stated Aug. 16 they will not mandate mask-wearing in schools.

The district presented the most updated version of its COVID-19 back-to-school plan three days before school starts Aug. 19. After releasing a first draft of the plan in mid-July, the district issued a survey that closed Aug. 4 to receive feedback from the community. The feedback informed the current plan draft, which is subject to change every six months or when instructed by the Texas Education Agency or state and national health agencies.

Residents and some board members expressed disappointment and frustration with the current plan, including trustee Jennifer Mauldin, who said the current language about mask wearing is not strong enough compared to other surrounding districts.

“When I was an elementary school principal I would ask myself what is in the best interest of the students at this school,” Mauldin said. “Now we are sitting here as board members, representing the community, I ask myself the same question for the school district. The answer I can only come up with is that all students should be strongly encouraged to wear a mask at school.”

According to the current plan, mask-wearing is not required and neither is contact tracing. Only students and staff who have been in contact with an individual who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified via email. Those who have made significant contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home for 10 days or get a negative PCR test to return to school. Parents are encouraged to screen their children daily and athletic groups will be screened daily.

Fifteen residents spoke after the presentation, all asking the board to mandate mask-wearing regardless of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order and any potential litigation. Many speakers, including Monica Madray, cited fear of being unable to vaccinate their children under 12 and the potential for schools shutting down in weeks time.

“I am a scientist and there is plenty of science to support masking,” Madray said. “[Superintendent Fred] Brent said we know we are going to be ok because last year we kept each other safe and had schools open. But this is not last year. Last year we didn’t have a delta variant.”