AUSTIN ISD UPDATE RE MASKS: Starting Wednesday, August 11, 2021 students, staff and visitors will need to wear face masks when on school properties, Superintendent Stephanie S. Elizalde announced late Monday at a school board meeting.
"I am responsible for the safety, health and welfare of each and every one of our students and our staff. If I err, I must err on the side of ensuring that we’ve been overly cautious, not that we have fallen short," Elizalde said.
"These protocols are especially important for the protection and health and safety of our youngest and most vulnerable students who cannot be vaccinated at this time," said Board President Geronimo Rodriguez.
Why it matters: On July 9, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended universal indoor masking in schools as a way to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, especially when paired with other safety measures such as vaccines, social distancing, rapid tests and increasing ventilation. Austin ISD required masks throughout all of last school year and saw a lower positivity rate inside its schools than in the community at large.
Yes, but: Gov. Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA No. 36, which prohibited schools from issuing a mask mandate.
The Houston and Dallas school districts have also issued mask mandates.
PRINCIPAL UPDATE RE COVID HEALTH & SAFETY INFORMATION: In response to COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continuing to surge to pre-vaccine levels, Austin Public Health (APH) raised the area’s risk-based guidance to Stage 5, its highest level, stressing the importance of individual responsibility in halting the spike of infection and severe illness caused by the COVID-19 Delta variant. Austin ISD will continue to monitor local conditions and adjust health and safety protocols accordingly. To mitigate the spread of the virus, I ask that all parents support us in strongly encouraging students to practice the four recommended strategies to limit the spread of infection when they return to campus: wash your hands, keep your distance, wear a mask, and self-screen.
In accordance with the updated district protocols for on-campus learning (click HERE for details), Bowie will forgo temperature checks and screenings upon entry, but we will continue to employ rigorous cleaning protocols and implement steps for contact tracing when necessary. We also strongly encourage you to have your child vaccinated against the virus, if eligible, particularly in the context of the Delta variant’s impact on younger people.
Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important ways we can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The CDC recommends that everyone wash their hands frequently throughout the day. We will be promoting frequent 20-second hand washing practices among students and staff.
We know that masking is the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We strongly encourage all individuals to wear a face mask, especially unvaccinated individuals (following CDC masking guidelines) and continue wearing a mask when around others who are not in their immediate households. Austin Public Health and the CDC recommend that students and staff are aware of the correct use of cloth face masks, including wearing cloth face masks over the nose and mouth and securely around the face. Austin ISD will require all students and employees to wear masks while on the bus (see CDC order).
Aligned with CDC recommendations for social distancing as a strategy for slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Austin ISD will implement social distancing measures at all schools and facilities, whenever possible. The CDC considerations for schools states, “Space seating/desks at least 3 feet apart when feasible.”
All staff, students, and visitors are encouraged to self screen for COVID-19 symptoms before entering into a campus or other Austin ISD facility each day. If you answer, yes, to any of the below when self screening, please consider staying home and consulting a doctor. Our five self screening questions: