Richardson ISD to implement temporary mask requirement for all students, staff

Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School student Gabriella Umana-Delapaz.
Gabriella Umana-Delapaz colors during class at Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School earlier this school year. (Courtesy Richardson ISD)

Gabriella Umana-Delapaz colors during class at Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School earlier this school year. (Courtesy Richardson ISD)

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Dobie Pre-Kindergarten School student Marcello Porterfield builds with blocks earlier this school year. (Courtesy Richardson ISD)
Less than a week into its second semester, Richardson ISD plans to put a temporary mask requirement in place beginning Jan. 10 for all students, personnel and visitors due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the district.

The mask requirement will be in place through the end of January, at which time officials will assess pandemic conditions to determine whether it needs to continue, according to the RISD website.

“This decision was made because of an unprecedented rise in positive cases among students and employees,” Interim Superintendent Tabitha Branum said in a statement. “We continue to focus on the goal of keeping our schools open for in-person teaching and learning, and this is a necessary step if we hope to keep our students learning in school.”

The district's COVID-19 dashboard, which was last updated Jan. 7, lists 913 active cases among students and 278 active cases among staff members. Those totals amount to 2.45% of district students and 3.82% of staff members, according to the dashboard. Since the district began collecting data for this school year on Aug. 2, 2,803 students and 705 employees have been diagnosed with the virus.

Dallas County reported 6,310 new cases of the coronavirus Jan. 6.

"This is the highest total number of new cases we’ve ever reported for one day," County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement. "Keep in mind that these numbers do not include home test kits, which are being increasingly used by those who can find them."

On Jan. 5, Dallas County reported a four-day total of 4,800 new cases since the beginning of the year.

RISD announced in November that it would remove its mask requirement for elementary schools beginning Jan. 4 for the second semester.

At that time, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 35 students and seven employees still had the virus as of Nov. 11. Those totals amounted to 0.09% of district students and 0.1% of staff members, according to the dashboard.

RISD put a mask mandate in place for all students and staff Aug. 17. The district then made masks optional at junior highs, high schools and the district’s central office buildings Nov. 3.
By William C. Wadsack

Editor, Plano

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.