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Round Rock ISD parents divided on mask requirement protocol

Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees voted in April to keep the mask rules in place through the end of the year.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Round Rock ISD parents are divided on COVID-19 masking protocol, with some fighting to keep mask rules in place for their schools and others wanting it to be a choice. 

The school district's board of trustees recently considered relaxing the mask requirement, but voted to keep the rules in place through the end of the calendar year. 

During that time, there were two petitions created by two different parents who are fighting for opposing sides. One was created by RRISD parent Christina Mansson, who is fighting to have kids wear masks in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her petition is called "Keep Masks for Students, Teachers, and Staff at Round Rock ISD" and 3,026 people signed it.

The other petition is called "Mask Choice for Round Rock ISD," created by Shaunna Kinn, who is also a RRISD parent. 

Another parent, Dustin Clark, supports the decision to make masking a choice for students.

"COVID-19 is a thunderstorm and it just barreled through, like, ravage the entire country," said Mansson. "I do not believe that masks will have 100% stopped COVID. However, I do believe it mitigates the risk. It's been made obvious and communicated multiple times from the district of what the requirements are and it also says that the students will cooperate and assist the school staff in maintaining safety. It's important that they understand that the reason why they're required to wear masks this year is because it is a safety precaution."

Round Rock ISD's rules state, "All students in Pre-K through Grade 12, and all teachers, staff and adult visitors should wear a face mask." 

Clark said that language doesn't mean it's a requirement and said he shouldn't have to send his child to school with a mask.

"As parents, we should have the right to choose if we're going to follow that recommendation," said Clark. "I believe the N95 and medical masks, when used properly by trained personnel, do offer protection. However, masks used by children and school staff are primarily reused very often without being washed, jammed into pockets or backpacks, and are usually thin cloth material.  

Clark said he knows the virus is spreading and believes it's dangerous, but added kids are too young to cover their nose and mouth for eight hours and five days a week. Clark said he has four students in RRISD and told KVUE it's been tough for all of them to deal with. So, he decided to pull his older kids out of in-person learning.

"As leaders, we take recommendations and we should weigh those against the value it's going to provide and the impact it's going to have on our organizations," said Clark.

Round Rock ISD sent KVUE a statement about the masking rules:

The Round Rock ISD administration appreciates the Board of Trustees' decision to uphold the current mask requirements through the end of the spring semester. Current Texas Education Agency guidance provides that school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate and schools should work closely with local health authorities as we weigh operational decisions. In Round Rock ISD, we do work closely with our health partners who advise us that masks remain an important tool in keeping our staff, students and community healthy and our schools open.

We have not yet made a decision on what requirements will be in place in the summer and fall but are encouraged by the current trend in declining COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations, and the increase in the number of Texans vaccinated. We will continue to consult with our local health authorities in making these decisions and will communicate to our families as soon as possible.

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