After a long school board meeting last night (Monday, August 16, 2021) and over 150 community member testimonies, the Round Rock ISD Board of Trustees debated for many hours and finally voted late into the night.
Starting Tuesday, August 17, 2021, all Round Rock ISD campuses will require visitors, students, and staff members to wear a mask while indoors.
In an announcement made early this morning:
Starting Wednesday, Aug. 18, masks will temporarily be required at all Round Rock ISD schools and facilities, following approval by the Board of Trustees during their Aug. 16 called meeting.
The requirement expires on September 17, 2021. The Board’s regular monthly meeting is scheduled for September 16, 2021, and the Trustees could vote to extend the requirement at that time if conditions warrant.
Under the District’s new mask protocol, all students, teachers, staff members and adult visitors, including Trustees, must wear masks on buses and while inside school buildings when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. Students and staff have the option to remove their masks while seated in cafeterias and staff lunch rooms and while outdoors. The requirement is not effective during athletics, fine arts, and physical education classes unless deemed appropriate by the coach, director or instructor.
“My ultimate responsibility is the health and welfare of our students. We must look at the science, listen to the experts, and do what is right to protect them. As several other superintendents who have made the decision to require masks have said, if we’re going to err, I want to err on the side of caution,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Hafedh Azaiez said. “As the public health climate continues to rapidly change, we must be willing to adapt and make decisions to protect our community as we know that masks are an essential tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”
Parents will have the option to opt their students out of the requirement if they choose. A form will be provided on the District website by end of day Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Local health authorities from Travis and Williamson counties, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that students, staff, and visitors wear masks at school to mitigate current community spread of COVID-19, particularly considering the disease’s heightened transmission and infection rate primarily caused by the more transmissible “Delta” variant. Also, the American Academy of Pediatricsrecommends everyone older than the age of two wear a mask in schools regardless of vaccination status. Currently, local and federal health officials emphasize that masks are the most effective strategy to reduce the chances of transmission and slow the virus’ spread.
While Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA No. 36 earlier this year, which prohibited schools from issuing a mask mandate, several districts across the state have decided to require masks and legal challenges to the governor’s order are ongoing. Last school year, Round Rock ISD required masks throughout the year and saw a lower positivity rate inside its schools than in the community at large.
We understand that this development may affect families’ decisions regarding in-person learning. Families who are currently enrolled in the District’s virtual learning program and wish to transition back to on-campus learning may do so by contacting their home campus registrar’s office.
Round Rock ISD’s current COVID-19 protocols are designed with the guidance of local health agencies and in consideration of the current and developing public health climate. Round Rock ISD will reassess conditions frequently and adjust accordingly.