Students, staff and visitors at Eanes ISD will not be required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors starting June 1, per a board vote made during a May 11 special meeting.

The 2020-21 academic year will conclude May 26, meaning the change in policy will not impact the current school year.

However, the requirement will be lifted during district summer school classes, camps and other organized activities.

Masks will also be optional at board of trustees meetings, which will continue to be held in-person.

Face coverings have been mandatory on campus at Eanes ISD and surroundings districts since students returned to in-person learning in the fall.

Superintendent Tom Leonard said individual teachers would not have the authority to require masks for their classrooms as it would not be in compliance with the updated policy.

Still, there may be situations where the district may make accommodations to ensure an individual’s safety, according to Leonard, who said these occurrences would be rare.

The change in policy does not prevent individuals including staff members from wearing a mask on campus if desired.

Additionally, a classroom, club or group will have the opportunity to collectively agree to wear face coverings. However, Leonard said EISD would not facilitate these agreements.

Several trustees expressed concern related to the lifted requirements, including James Spradley, who noted that parents signed their children up for summer classes under the assumption that masks would be worn.

Board Member Heather Sheffield said she would prefer more guidance from national or local health authorities.

“I think I would feel better if we had more directives from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] or from Austin Public Health or somebody saying that we should do this,” Sheffield said.

Recently, parents have approached the board to call for the repeal of face coverings on campus—a decision with which several districts, including Round Rock ISD, have recently grappled.

“Unmask these children now," community member Christie Oats said during the meeting’s open forum session. "Today and June 1 are no different.”

Despite the trustees' initial hesitations, the action passed unanimously. Board Member Laura Clark also noted the decision is still subject to further board consideration if needed.