Round Rock ISD pushes mask mandate decision to next week after unruly board meeting

Education

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The Round Rock Independent School District did not make a decision on whether to extend its mask mandate Tuesday night after the meeting was disrupted several times by angry community members. They were overall upset at not being allowed in the main chamber for the meeting.

A spokesperson for RRISD says they let the room fill up as much as possible while abiding by social distancing guidelines. Once the room was full, people were put in an overflow room, where they could watch the meeting on television and come into the main room to talk — if they signed up to speak.

That spokesperson said current capacity is limited, and seats are spaced six feet apart, because both Williamson and Travis counties are in the highest COVID-19 risk phases.

Community members were unhappy with that, citing the Open Meetings Act. RRISD says they abided by the Open Meetings Act and did not violate the law “in any way.”

In the district’s livestream, board members can be heard asking a police officer at the meeting to remove one of the members of the crowd.

“We cannot continue our meeting with him speaking,” one of the board members said.

That person, who can’t be seen in the district’s livestream, but was caught on camera by KXAN and can be seen being escorted out in the video above, screams at the board members on his way out.

“It’s an open meeting! Shame on you. Communist! Communist! Let the public in!” he said.

Whether charges will be filed for that person is still being determined, a RRISD spokesperson said.

Two RRISD trustees also walked out during the meeting after being yelled at for not wearing their masks — despite the mandate.

The district is one of several school systems being sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over mask rules. Its current mask mandate ends on Friday.

The board had initially scheduled a follow-up meeting regarding the mask mandate to take place on Saturday, Sept. 18. On Thursday, a board member said the meeting was rescheduled to Sept. 22.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Hafedh Azaiez said the meeting was rescheduled to Sept. 22 because it “was the earliest possible opportunity.”

Azaiez said he plans on asking trustees to approve a recommendation that would connect the district’s mask requirements with risk stages determined by the Williamson and Travis County health authorities.

If approved, the mask mandate would be in place while counties were in Stages 4 and 5.

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