Pearland ISD on Aug. 9 announced its COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming 2021-22 school year. According to PISD’s website, the district will not be enforcing a mask mandate, but it “highly recommends” all students, staff and visitors wear them indoors.

“I think moving from a policy of masks optional to masks highly recommended is a step in the right direction,” said Kelly Barnes, a parent of two elementary students at PISD. “I just don’t think it goes far enough. Last year we had universal masking in Pearland and that seemed to help keep students, teachers and staff safe.”

Parents and employees will still be required to report confirmed positive COVID-19 cases to a campus nurse or their supervisor, according to the district, and notification letters will be sent out daily if positive cases are reported. PISD will also have a COVID-19 dashboard tracking positive cases in the district beginning on Aug. 18.

“[The dashboard] helped us, seeing that data last year, feel confident that our school was really effectively implementing safety measures and that an in-person return was safe for our kids,” Barnes said. “We’ll certainly be looking at this data again this year with the mask requirement gone.”

According to the district’s website, PISD will also go back to serving meals through normal line service, but will encourage students to space out and use additional spaces outside of the cafeteria for mealtime.

Each PISD school bus will also have hand sanitizer available on each vehicle that students will use when they enter, and the district will also disinfect school buses after each route, according to the PISD website. In addition, the district said it aims to reduce transmission risk on buses by opening windows and roof vents when possible, according to the district’s website.

Visitors will be restricted to essential personnel only, according to PISD’s website. Parents will not be able to walk their child to the classroom or eat lunch on any campus. For athletic events or other after-school activities, there will be no limit on spectators and masks will not be required.

On its website, PISD said it anticipates possible changes and revisions to its procedures as the school year progresses depending on health trends and other metrics and that it will continue to consult with the Texas Education Agency along with local, state and national public health officials.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on May 18 prohibiting government entities from mandating face coverings due to COVID-19; however, mask mandates are being considered by other districts in the state, including Houston ISD. The lack of a mask mandate at PISD has some students, like Alice Murphey, a student at Dawson High School, criticizing the district.

“COVID transmission is very high with the delta variant, and I think our school district’s lack of a mask mandate demonstrates their irresponsibility and constant disregard for the students and families in the [district],” Murphey said.

For all of the COVID-19 protocols set by the district, visit PISD's website.