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Austin ISD Will 'Encourage' Masking This Fall For All Students And Staff, Regardless Of Vaccination Status

A student wearing a mask sits at a desk behind a partition.
Michael Minasi
The governor has banned schools from requiring masks, so Austin ISD plans to encourage they be worn this fall, especially in elementary schools, where children can't get vaccinated.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise again in Travis County, the Austin Independent School District will encourage everyone who enters a school building this fall to wear a mask.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order in May that bans government entities, including schools, from mandating masks, so the district cannot require them.

AISD spokesperson Cristina Nguyen says the district is asking all staff and students to wear a mask, especially at elementary schools where students can't get vaccinated.

"We know that masks work," she said. "We know that because they worked last year to keep infection rates low, much lower in our schools than in the community at large. We are really going to be encouraging that until our students can get vaccinated."

She said while the school cannot mandate masks, a parent or guardian can ask the school to enforce masking for their child.

Nguyen said AISD will continue to offer rapid testing at all campuses and vaccinate students and staff who are eligible. The district is looking into virtual school options for medically fragile students and seeing about virtual options for others. The district is not offering virtual classes next school year because the state will not provide funding.

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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