ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — One week before school starts, Round Rock ISD teachers were roaming the hallways of their campuses: some masked, some not.
Signs outside the school doors say masks are encouraged, but not required. But that could change as a growing number of Texas schools defy Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates and require them anyway.
Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez is starting his first year with the district and said COVID-19 protocols remain fluid.
Tom Miller: We have seen a handful of school districts come out and say that they are going to have a mask mandate. They’re defying the governor. What’s Round Rock’s plan on that?
Hafedh Azaiez: Obviously it’s an ongoing conversation, and so we’re still having a discussion about it. We’re also looking at if there would be any changes when it comes to the governor’s order. Maybe also changes with the health guidance and stuff like that. Also, the condition on the ground when it comes to the number of cases.
Tom: Right now, masks are optional. Does the district plan to encourage masks and PPE?
Azaiez: Yes, so we are strongly encouraging masks. You saw me, I brought my mask here, we’ll be modeling masks for our students. We are doing a survey, and the majority of our students and our parents will be sending their students to school with masks.
Tom: Your virtual learning program is for kindergarten through sixth grade. How many students do you expect to do that?
Azaiez: When we’re looking at the numbers we’re probably expecting anywhere from five to six thousand students who will be doing virtual. Again, we’re very proud of the work that we’re putting together, but we don’t want our students to fall behind. We heard our parents — many of them expressed concern because K through 6th grade students can’t get vaccines — and they felt like even with masks, it still might not be safe enough for them. We are doing it because we feel like it’s the right thing to do for our parents and for our students.