Eanes ISD updated its mask policy Nov. 10 to make masks optional for students and staff when not in the presence of students under age 12, effective immediately, according to a press release from the school.

Students at the elementary level will still be required to wear masks either until Austin Public Health announces the county is in Stage 2 or after Thanksgiving break, at the earliest. The district said it hopes to return from Thanksgiving break with a mask-optional status for individuals of all ages.

"We've had vaccines for children 12 and up for a long time, so we feel very comfortable at the secondary level making masks optional," Superintendent Tom Leonard said. "Right now, I do not anticipate it happening sooner than Thanksgiving break because we want to give some time for parents, who want to get their children 5-11 vaccinated, into that process."

EISD has three active COVID-19 cases, two teachers and one student, according to the EISD COVID-19 Dashboard. Since Aug. 18, the district has had 208 positive student cases and 42 positive staff cases, the dashboard said.

Travis County is in Stage 3 under the COVID-19 Risk Based Guidelines, and according to the district the re-evaluation of the threshold for entering Stage 2 by Travis County and APH has extended the mask mandate despite decreased positive cases in EISD. The district said it will continue to gradually ease restrictions in schools, having recently also eased restrictions regarding guest visits to campuses and large gatherings in October.

"We're grateful for the community and their patience as we navigated Stages 5, 4 and 3," Leonard said. "We know this has been hard on everyone, but we are really hopeful that we are moving in the right direction."

Editor's Note: This story was updated to clarify mask mandate timelines for ages 5-11 and include comments from Eanes ISD Superintendent Tom Leonard.