Plano ISD board to allow temporary mask mandate to expire on Sept. 24

People in a meeting.
The Plano ISD board of trustees discuss the district's temporary mask mandate during its Sept. 21 meeting. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Plano ISD board of trustees discuss the district's temporary mask mandate during its Sept. 21 meeting. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)

Plano ISD's temporary mask mandate will expire Sept. 24 after a motion to extend it was not passed by the district's board of trustees during its Sept. 21 meeting.

The temporary mandate, which allows for medical, religious, philosophical and administrative exemptions, has been in place since Aug. 26. It covers all indoor district facilities as well as district-provided transportation. Parents of 3,804 PISD students requested exemptions to the requirement, according to the district website.

Board Secretary Jeri Chambers initially made a motion to extend the mandate to Nov. 5, but then amended that date to Oct. 8 after board President David Stolle said he was not in favor of extending the mandate.

Stolle said the case models the board considered when it put the mandate in place predicted a surge in early September.

"We took action in early August to address that surge," he said. "We are through the surge, in my mind, and we are tracking exactly with what the expectation was, at least in my mind, when I justified my decision that we had a crisis that needed to be addressed."


Assistant Superintendent Beth Brockman gave an overview of COVID-19 case trends for students and staff before the board discussed the potential update to the PISD's health and safety protocols. Brockman said the district reached its highest number of positive students this school year on Sept. 1 when there were 490 active cases.

"Since that peak, we have been on a relatively consistent decline in active positive cases for students," she said.

PISD’s COVID-19 dashboard showed as of Sept. 21 there were 163 current cases among students and 16 cases among staff.

Chambers' motion to extend the mandate was defeated in a 4-3 vote with Stolle and board members Angela Powell, Heather Wang and Cody Weaver voting against it.

The temporary mask mandate was initially approved in a 6-1 vote during an emergency board meeting Aug. 23. Powell was the only trustee to vote against the proposal at that time.

The board's vote came after the Texas Education Agency updated its public health guidance Sept. 17 to state school systems cannot require students or staff to wear a mask, per Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order GA-38.

Plano ISD began its Virtual Academy for students in kindergarten through sixth grade Sept. 13, following approval of state funding. During the Sept. 21 meeting, district staff said 1,058 students are presently taking advantage of virtual learning options. Earlier this month, district staff said about 1,500 students applied to the Virtual Academy, though a final enrollment number was not available. The application window for the Virtual Academy ended Sept. 5.
By William C. Wadsack

Senior Reporter, Plano/Richardson

William joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2019. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana.



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