UPDATE: Most Central Texas school district say they will continue requiring students, staff to wear masks; updated TEA guidelines expected later this week

Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Updated: March 3, 8:30 a.m.

Austin ISD has released an updated statement, and said that the district will continue to require masks.

"As you may be aware, this afternoon Governor Greg Abbott announced an order to lift the statewide mask mandate. We want to let you know that Austin ISD will continue to require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks on district property and at district events," the district said in the statement released on March 2. "Our decisions have been and will continue to be based on guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We appreciate everyone's efforts to keep safe by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing when possible, and washing hands frequently."

Dripping Springs ISD also provided an update in the evening on March 2.

"Our district remains committed to protocols we have in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keeping our schools open during this pandemic. At this time, we will continue our current safety protocols including the required use of face masks at Dripping Springs ISD campuses and facilities," the district said in a statement.


Original post: March 2, 5:34 p.m.

Central Texas school districts are still sorting out the latest executive order announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, which, once in effect on March 10, will no longer require Texas residents to wear masks or face coverings when indoors and in most public spaces.

According to current Texas Education Agency guidelines, which have not been updated since Abbott’s March 2 announcement, Texas schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order regarding the wearing of masks. When the TEA guideline was written, Abbott’s active executive order included requirements for residents to cover their faces if they were traveling through indoor spaces open to the public or outdoor areas where they could not maintain 6 feet of distance.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement that the commission will be updating TEA guidance later this week and it will "allow for some degree of continuation of what we had before." The statement was made during the Montgomery County Day at the Capitol event in Conroe on March 2.

“Governor Abbott’s Executive Order (GA-34) takes effect next Wed., March 10, 2021. Updated public health guidance from TEA will be coming this week,” TEA said in an official statement later in the day.

Austin ISD will continue to require students and staff on its campuses to wear masks and is waiting for TEA to clarify its requirements.

“We are aware of the Governor's order and we are awaiting guidance from TEA,” Austin ISD said in a district statement March 2. “Until we receive that guidance, we will continue to adhere to our current safety protocols. We will send updates as quickly as decisions are made.”

Leander ISD also released a statement, and said it will keep its mask mandate in place.

“Leander ISD will continue to prioritize student, staff and community health by following the guidance of our state and local health agencies as outlined in our current COVID-19 protocols. We will still enforce our existing mask protocols and social distancing requirements," the LISD statement reads. "As we work to slow community spread of COVID-19 and minimize the health risks of in-person learning, we will work with health departments and the Texas Education Agency regarding health and safety in our schools. We will adjust when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Douglas Killian said in a statement March 2 the district will not be adjusting its mask requirements. He said mask wearing is a central safety precaution advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Austin Public Health. Mask requirements in Round Rock ISD will also remain in place, according to the district.

In Georgetown ISD, Superintendent Fred Brent said that district safety protocols remain unchanged for now, and masks are still required for all staff, students and visitors to district facilities.

"I know we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19, but I also know that it is not fully behind us," he said. "The safety protocols we put into practice last summer allowed us to open doors and provide the choice for students to learn safely in a traditional school environment."

Other districts, including Eanes and Dripping Springs ISDs, and San Marcos CISD are waiting for further information from TEA and are internally discussing how, if at all, mask mandates may change at their schools.

Hutto ISD officials said that until further guidance is made available and analyzed, the district will continue with current safety measures in place. Similarly, Lake Travis ISD said in a statement that it will not be making any changes to its policy at this time as it waits for TEA guidance.

"We are not making any immediate changes. In the meantime, we will seek state and local guidance on this matter and will begin to assess the potential impact to our District and school operations," LTISD said in the statement.
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


MOST RECENT

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house 3,000 homeless individuals in Austin in the next three years would cost $515 million

The plan Austin City Council members discussed April 20 emerged from a weekslong community-wide summit on homelessness.

Photo of Zilker Park
Travis County establishes Civilian Conservation Corps to tackle climate, environmental projects

The program will create opportunities for residents to work on projects including wildfire prevention, solar energy promotion and park cleanups.

Residents march to the Texas Capitol in protests after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

At an in-person information session at the Austin Community College Pinnacle campus April 17, Colorado River Constructors spokesperson Laurie Simmons said the campus is the company’s preferred choice for a batch concrete plant. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
'No toxic batch plant': Southwest Austin residents protest proposed Pinnacle site for Oak Hill Parkway concrete production

Colorado River Constructors officials said the ACC Pinnacle site would be the safest and least impactful to local residents.

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard speaks to reporters March 13 at the Delco Actiity Center in Northeast Austin. Residents can walk up to the Delco Center on April 22 and 23 and receive vaccines without an appointment. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Public Health will accept walk-up vaccinations at the Delco Activity Center starting April 22

APH will also leave its registration portal open throughout most of the week.

Early voting for the May 1 election runs April 19-27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hays County reports 500 votes in first day of early voting

Education-related election items in Hays County include $443.5 million in bonds as well as city council positions, school board seats and municipal utility district directors.

Early voting for Travis County's May 1 local elections opened April 19. In this file photo, voters line up ahead of the 2020 primary elections at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 8,000 Travis County voters cast ballots on first day of early voting

Early voting for the county's May 1 election began April 19 and will run through April 27.

The Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin is one of the locations where residents can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Jack Flalger/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin vaccine updates: Demand slows as state begins marketing push

Appointments are beginning to go unfilled, and local health officials say demand has caught up to supply. All adults in the U.S. are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Blue Corn Harvest Leander is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blue Corn Harvest opens in Leander; park, pizzeria launches social club and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Photo of two performers on an outdoor SXSW stage
South by Southwest sells ownership stake in company to Rolling Stone owner Penske Media Corp.

SXSW leadership called the sale a "lifeline" for the conference and festivals.

The Southwest Austin median home price topped $500,000 for the first time in March. (Nicholas Cicale/Community impact Newspaper)
SW Austin median home price reaches $530,000 in March, up 32.8% from last year

The median home price topped $500,000 for the first time in March.

Photo of people receiving vaccines in a gym
Austin Public Health lengthens windows for vaccine appointment signups

Residents age 18 and up can now sign up for appointments with APH any time from Saturday to Tuesday morning.