Face coverings will be strongly recommended indoors for Clear Creek ISD students, staff and visitors during the 2021-22 school year, consistent with guidance from earlier in the month.

Pre-K students, kindergarteners, sixth graders and ninth graders begin the 2021-22 school year Aug. 16, with all other grades starting the following day. Superintendent Eric Williams and Board President Jay Cunningham said in an Aug. 13 statement the protocols take the health and well-being of students and staff into account.

“We are implementing protocols that aim to protect the health of those on our campuses,” part of the statement reads. “These protocols include strongly recommending that people on our campuses and facilities wear face coverings when they are indoors.”

A back-to-school guide posted Aug. 4 included a statement that the district “is strongly recommending students and staff wear face coverings indoors.” The back-to-school checklist can be viewed here.

Approximately a week later, Harris County Public Health issued a mask mandate for public schools located within Harris County. Within CCISD, there are district campuses in both Harris and Galveston counties. Per the Aug. 13 statement, CCISD will not impose a districtwide mandate.

Since CCISD is governed by an independent school board, and required to follow the laws of the State of Texas and rules of the Texas Education Agency, the district will continue to comply with Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting a school district from mandating the indoor use of face coverings, per the Aug. 13 statement.

In addition, more employees are missing work the week of Aug. 9 following positive COVID-19 tests than were missing work in January during the last COVID-19 case surge, the district’s Chief Communications Officer Elaina Polsen said in an Aug. 12 email. There were 54 employees out with COVID-19 the week of January 10 and 59 employees out the week of Aug. 9, she said.

“We must reduce the risk of spreading the virus to keep staff at work and students in class,” she wrote. “We are also having some difficulty securing substitutes, especially at the elementary level without a mask requirement.”

Since Aug. 4, adjustments have been made to the back-to-school plan to incorporate community feedback that were shared with parents via email. Another email update indicated CCISD is planning a “temporary and limited online learning option for elementary students.”

Williams and Cunningham advocated in their Aug. 13 statement for face coverings, frequent hand washing, keeping distance from others and staying home when sick as ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. They plan to release a back-to-school video message later Aug. 13, referencing these and other health and safety protocols as well as welcoming the community back for the 2021-22 school year, per the statement.