Mask requirement to remain in Amarillo ISD schools

The Amarillo Independent School District has decided it will continue requiring staff and students to wear face coverings on its campuses. The decision comes after Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he plans to reopen Texas 100% and lift the statewide mask mandate on March 10.

The full statement from Amarillo ISD is below:

Earlier this week, we learned from the Governor that masks will no longer be mandated in Texas. The Texas Education Agency later gave guidance that schools should continue with masks, unless a district takes action to the contrary.

Over the last few days, Amarillo ISD has heard from many parents, employees and members of the community, and District leadership has had time to consider the real impact of making masks optional and the unintended consequences for students.

Even though the Governor’s Executive Order lifts the statewide mask mandate on March 10, the CDC’s quarantine guidelines, which the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Local Health Officials say school districts must follow, have not changed. Without masks, a single case of COVID in a school could result in hundreds of students forced into quarantines.

Making masks optional would also disregard the safety of our teachers and employees who haven’t yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated and then develop the resulting immunity.

It is clear that keeping masks on will keep kids in school. At this time, AISD is committed to continuing our current safety protocols, including the wearing of masks, while at the same time working to create opportunities and access to shots for our employees. To ensure we are doing everything we can, we have partnered with a local pharmacy to provide a COVID-19 vaccination clinic this weekend just for AISD staff.

The District will also open schools to parents, increasing capacity at indoor events to 50 percent and outdoor events to 100 percent.

On March 2, 2021, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34 which addresses the statewide wearing of face coverings (i.e., masks), which takes effect March 10, 2021. TEA’s authority to implement operational requirements for public schools remains in effect (e.g., TEA’s Public Health Guidance). 

As a result of the lifting of the order on masks, TEA has updated its Public Health Guidance. Under this updated guidance, a public school system’s current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy.

TEA has also made updates related to surface cleaning requirements. 

Additionally, the Department of State Health Services announced that educators and school support staff are eligible for vaccines effective immediately. 

As of the publishing of this article, Canyon ISD planning to make masks optional for staff and students beginning March 10. 

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