Pearland ISD joined a number of Houston-area districts in revising its mask mandate May 17—although PISD community members will not want to leave face coverings entirely at home just yet.

Masks are now optional outdoors for all students and staff but will be required indoors for the remaining days of the 2020-21 school year, according to an email blast from PISD Superintendent John Kelly on the evening of May 17. While Kelly’s email indicated a mask mandate would still be in effect indoors this spring and summer, Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-36 on May 18, prohibiting public schools from requiring students, teachers, parents and other staff members or visitors to wear masks after June 4.

The new regulations apply for PISD schooling and activities taking place during June and July. Initial decisions about fall protocols will be communicated no later than July 26 since various fall activities begin Aug. 1, per the email.

“With grit and perseverance our community has faced unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Kelly wrote. “Within these parameters, we trust parents and staff to make the best decisions for their families. Pearland ISD supports anyone who feels it is important to continue wearing a mask and expects all to remain respectful of each individual’s choice.”

PISD’s decision to distinguish between outdoor and indoor mask use this spring is partly based on guidance from the Texas Education Agency, Kelly said in the email: TEA guidance states mask requirements do not apply to anyone who is either engaging in outdoor physical activity or maintaining a safe distance from others outside of the household.

Kelly also referenced Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which indicates students will most likely not be vaccinated in full by the end of the 2020-21 school year and therefore recommends schools not resume prepandemic operations this school year. PISD’s COVID-19 dashboard will continue to reflect reported cases daily for the five campuses hosting summer school as well as multifacility categories including the Education Support Center, transportation and maintenance, per the May 17 email.

The May 18 board of trustees meeting will involve an update and discussion on “matters associated with the COVID-19 realities and board/administration advocacy efforts,” per the meeting agenda packet. Potential topics include an update on any state Legislature bills affecting the 2021-22 school year, COVID-19 dashboard figures, more on graduation plans and a summary of pandemic-related plans for 2021-22.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and can be watched live via YouTube at