Parents upset with Leander charter school after administrators mistakenly announce new mask policy

Education

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Editor’s Note: This story has been amended to reflect the latest information from the school’s policy makers, who admit an errant email led to confusion among parents and administrators.

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Some parents with children at a charter school in Leander said they felt blindsided when the headmaster sent an e-mail on Tuesday, announcing a change to the mandatory mask policy following the first day of school.

Responsive Education Solutions, the COVID-19 response team in charge of determining policy for all Founders Classical Academies across Texas, told KXAN the headmaster made a mistake and did not fully understand the current policies in place. A spokesperson said masks will still be required outside of the classroom for all students.

KXAN obtained the e-mail sent to parents Tuesday by Founders Classical Academy of Leander’s headmaster Doug Sowers saying “the requirement for masks in grades K-2 has been removed.”

“This means they will not need to wear them as they enter the building, in the halls and during recess. This, of course, could change if there is an increase in our activity levels. You may continue to have your student wear a mask if you choose,” the headmaster wrote.

Parents told KXAN they felt upset after reading the decision, saying it had the potential to harm families who chose in-person learning for their children with the impression that masks will be worn by all students.

“Many of us parents made the decision to send our children back based on the policy drawn up by the charter school. After just one day they abandoned they’re [sic] own policy leaving many of us frustrated,” said one student’s father, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s impossible for us parents to make educated decisions on what is best for our children when the school can’t even follow its own guidelines.”

Other parents reached out to KXAN, sharing their own push to prohibit masks for young learners. One parent said she felt requiring masks is unhealthy and a distraction to learning.

Responsive Education Solutions wanted to reassure parents it will require masks at all times, for all students, outside of the classroom, until local COVID-19 conditions improve. A spokesperson directed parents to read through the health and safety guidelines it is using to make safety determinations for campus based on local health data.

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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