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LIST: Austin ISD among local districts strongly encouraging masking in upcoming school year

As coronavirus cases rise in Central Texas, you might be wondering if your child will have to wear a mask to school during the 2021-22 school year.

AUSTIN, Texas — As the 2021-22 school year approaches, you may be wondering if your child will have to wear a mask at school, especially as coronavirus cases are rising in Central Texas.

Austin Public Health, Travis County and the Austin Independent School District said they “strongly recommend” all children under 12-years-old continue to wear masks at school until a vaccine for their age range is approved.

However, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in May prohibiting government entities, including school districts, from requiring or mandating mask-wearing after June 4, 2021.

RELATED: LIST: Which Central Texas school districts are offering virtual learning this upcoming school year

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending anyone over the age of two wear a mask at school, even if you’re fully vaccinated. This is a bit different from the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. The CDC said earlier this month that vaccinated students and staff don’t need to wear masks.

The CDC changed course Tuesday on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.

A list of school districts and their current decision on masking policies is below:

Austin ISD: 

Austin ISD is strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask indoors and around others not in their household. Unvaccinated students, staff and visitors are "especially encouraged" to wear a mask.

Their full announcement can be read here: 

We’re releasing an overview of our health and safety protocols for the new school year. You can view the entire document below. As conditions continue to change, we will be updating our protocols. 

We’re committed to providing a safe and healthy environment so that we can welcome each and every student back. The Centers for Disease and Prevention are backing the return to full in-person learning, and we’re ready to see your children in person again. 

We’re also exploring how we can provide virtual learning options within the constraints of the governor’s restrictions. We’ll have more information on those options by Aug. 2. 

We’re still in this pandemic and have a responsibility for each other’s safety. Austin Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recently updated their guidelines to recommend wearing a mask indoors for everyone, and our protocols reflect that recommendation. 

We know what works. In summary: 

  • We know that the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is masking. We strongly encourage wearing a mask when indoors (especially those who are unvaccinated). 
  • Stay home if you are sick and keep your child home if they are sick. 
  • Anyone who is sick will need to isolate at home for 10 days, unless you have a doctor’s note or a negative PCR test result confirming you’re healthy to return. 

Be sure to read the full document so you’re fully aware of every measure we’re taking for your children. 

Let’s continue to beat COVID and return to our schools for a joyful learning experience. Thank you for your continued work to keep Austin ISD healthy.

Download the COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols.

Dripping Springs ISD: 

Dripping Springs ISD told KVUE that it does not have an official plan for masks on campus yet. However, it did submit a draft of its COVID-19 protocols to the school board last week. 

The draft proposes DSISD be "mask optional." The board will discuss the plan at their meeting next Monday, July 26. 

Eanes ISD: 

Masks are optional for students, staff and visitors at Eanes ISD for the 2021-22 school year, per Abbott's executive order, according to the district's website.

"Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained," the website says.

Eanes ISD will "continue to monitor and reassess" its safety protocols as conditions change.

Florence ISD: 

Florence ISD is working on finalizing its Safe Return to School Plan.

The school district told KVUE that it is currently planning on making masks optional, but the plan is not set in stone.

Georgetown ISD: 

A draft of Georgetown ISD's safety plan is posted on their website for community feedback. In this version of the plan, masks are optional in accordance with Abbott's executive order. 

Community members can share their feedback with the district until Aug. 4.

Hays CISD: 

Hays CISD is finalizing its safety protocols for the 2021-22 school year. The district said it hopes to publish them by the end of this week.

IDEA Public Schools: 

IDEA Public Schools is highly encouraging all students to wear a mask on campus and on the bus. However, they are not required.

Lake Travis ISD: 

Lake Travis ISD said masks will be optional for staff, students and visitors.

"We encourage all families and staff members to make the best decision for themselves in deciding whether to wear one or not, and we expect all staff, students, and visitors to respect the choice of others," said Superintendent Paul Norton.

Lago Vista ISD:

Before finalizing its safety plan, Lago Vista ISD is awaiting guidance from its local health authority given changes in Travis County's COVID-19 stages.  

Lockhart ISD: 

Lockhart ISD told KVUE it has not finalized its safety protocols as of Wednesday, July 21.

Leander ISD: 

Leander ISD has two sets of COVID-19 protocols: Green and Red. Under the Green guidelines, masks are optional for staff and students. Under the Red guidelines, masks are recommended. 

The school district is using the average rate of new infections and situation in the area and state to determine which strategies will be employed, according to its website.

KIPP Texas Public Schools:

KIPP is recommending everyone wear a mask while on its campuses. KIPP told KVUE its Health & Safety Protocols are based on guidance from local and state health experts as well as the CDC. 

RELATED: Cases of COVID-19 in children ages zero to 9 nearing July 2020 peak levels in Travis County

Pflugerville ISD: 

Pflugerville ISD will determine its face-covering policies based on "the level of disease activity of COVID-19."

The school district will use data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin Public Health, OSHA and Austin-Travis County Health and Humans Services to determine "appropriate protective measures," according to its website.

Round Rock ISD:

Round Rock ISD said it cannot require masks for students, staff and visitors due to Abbott's executive order, according to the district's website. It cited CDC guidance on wearing a mask indoors as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The district said it may create "opt-in mask classrooms" if enough parents express interest. However, the "scenario is logistically challenging," according to the website.

Taylor ISD

Masks will be optional for students and staff members, according to Taylor ISD's website.

Wimberley ISD: 

Facing coverings are optional for students, staff and visitors on Wimberley ISD campuses. The school district said it will continue to use its Safe Breathing Zone Units to filter indoor air.

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