The Dripping Springs ISD board maintained Aug. 16, during an emotional meeting, to recommend but not mandate masks for the first day of school.

Trustees heard from dozens of parents who spoke against masking the night before the district's first day of school.

The meeting followed Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra's Aug. 14 executive order requiring local students to wear masks in schools and the Texas Supreme Court’s Aug. 15 decision backing Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that prohibits public entities, including school districts, from mandating masks.

The board spent more than an hour in closed session with legal counsel and did not make a decision about a mask mandate at the meeting.

“Everything is in limbo right now and there is no clear answer,” board President Barbara Stroud said after the board's closed session. “Protocols will continue in place and we’re excited to have kids back in school tomorrow.”

Stroud asked attendees to avoid applause and outbursts to keep the meeting efficient. The board also shortened speakers’ time from the regular 3 minutes to 1.5 minutes for efficiency, Stroud said.

The large crowd stood for applause several times after speakers told the board they believed parents should choose whether their children wear masks.

Dripping Springs Middle School eighth grader Ella Wylie told the board she is hard of hearing and had a difficult time during the pandemic understanding teachers, which led to failing grades, depression and eventual psychiatric treatment. Wiley, her voice breaking, attributed her depression to mask wearing. The majority of the crowd stood to clap after Wiley’s time expired.

In addition to the packed auditorium, YouTube counted more than 550 viewers on the live-streamed video around 8 p.m.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the correct spelling of Ella Wylie's name.