Dripping Springs ISD maintains mask recommendation; parents oppose mandate

Dozens of attendees of an August 16 Dripping Springs school board meeting stood to applaud an eighth-grader who said masking contributed to her depression in 2020. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dozens of attendees of an August 16 Dripping Springs school board meeting stood to applaud an eighth-grader who said masking contributed to her depression in 2020. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Dozens of attendees of an August 16 Dripping Springs school board meeting stood to applaud an eighth-grader who said masking contributed to her depression in 2020. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)

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.
By Maggie Quinlan

Reporter, Southwest Austin/Dripping Springs

Maggie joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July 2021 after a year spent covering crime, courts and politics at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, near the border with Idaho. In Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs, Maggie covers education, business, healthcare, transportation, real estate development and nonprofits. Prior to CI, she graduated from Washington State University, where she was managing editor of the student newspaper and a section editor at her hometown newspaper based in Moscow, Idaho. Maggie dreamed of living in the Austin area for years and feels honored to serve the communities of Southwest Austin and Dripping Springs.


Locker Room Haircuts opened a new location at 8900 South Congress Ave. in July. (Courtesy Locker Room Haircuts)
New Locker Room Haircuts comes to Southwest Austin, plus other business news

Locker Room Haircuts and three other new businesses are now open in Southwest Austin.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission considered a finalized draft of an updated map for Austin's 10 City Council districts Sept. 15. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: Draft map of Austin's redrawn City Council boundaries ready for community review

Volunteer city redistricting commissioners have unanimously passed an initial outline to update all 10 City Council districts set to go into effect next year.

Photo of a sign in a field
3 weeks before first weekend, ACL Music Festival awaits permit, final health and safety procedures

Austin City Limits Music Festival has not yet received a permit for its multiweekend music festival, but the city of Austin said this is a normal timeline.

The Austin Transit Partnership approved a $312.8 million budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Project Connect’s $312.8M budget receives approval for FY 2021-22

The budget will largely be spent on advancing the 30% designs for the Orange and Blue MetroRail lines.

The Davis/White Park trail will be improved through the Neighborhood Partnering Program. (Courtesy Austin Public Works Department)
City of Austin selects 4 neighborhood improvement projects to assist

The Austin Public Works department has helped complete more than 70 local neighborhood improvement projects in the last 10 years.

The city Music Commission met Sept. 13 to consider final outlines for the Live Music Fund Event Program and Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund 3.0.
Austin moving closer to sending out millions for live music events, musician recovery

Two upcoming city funding opportunities are being designed to support music industry events and provide emergency stabilization for those in the music sector.

Photo of county commissioners and community nonprofit leaders at a press conference
Travis County commits $110 million in federal funding to combat homelessness

The allocation will fund 2,000 supportive housing units.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization said the 10 projects will complement existing priority projects in Central Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Central Texas transportation organization advances $7 million in funding for 10 priority projects

The group also provided updates on efforts to restructure the loan it extended for the MoPac express lanes.

The court denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop construction of the Oak Hill Parkway on Sept. 13. (Courtesy Falcon Sky Photography)
Judge denies effort to stop Oak Hill Parkway construction

Judge Robert Pitman found that TxDOT did not violate the federal environmental review process.

Photo of a pregnant woman in the hospital
Austin doctors say pregnant individuals should vaccinate, seek monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19

Pregnant women are considered to be at higher risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.