AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District will require masks to be worn on its buses this upcoming school year.
Kris Hafezizadeh, AISD’s executive director of transportation and vehicle services, discussed the requirement and other details of the district’s bus safety protocols Thursday.
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AISD said all students and staff on AISD buses have to wear masks with these exceptions:
- Children under 2 years old
- A person who cannot safety wear a mask because of a disability defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act
- A person from whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety or job duty as determined by relevant safety guidelines or federal regulations
The district said buses are too close-quartered and the risk of transmission is too high. On a normal year, approximately 20,000 students — from elementary, middle and high schools — will share the buses every day.
“It’s needed to keep them safe. We are going back to full capacity on our school buses. It is very difficult to do social distancing on a bus,” Hafezizadeh said. “If we all wear a mask, we truly believe that can keep us safe.”
If a child refuses to wear a mask, the district said it will trigger a chain-of-events in which the student’s family and their campus principal will need to sit down and come to a mutual agreement. But in the end, they hope the community rallies together behind the small initiative to keep the greater public safe.
Austin ISD Survey Results
In the most recent survey from Austin ISD families, 80% of families said they plan to send their kids back with a mask.
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Some parents believe strongly that masks will limit the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in schools. Mom of two Abena Osseo-Asare has been deliberating her school choice for weeks. Thursday’s move to Stage 5 risk based guidelines nearly ensures her two children will attend AISD virtually. However, she was pleased to hear that AISD will enforce masks on buses.
“Even if you have 80, 70% [mask-wearing], it should make a difference. But it’s just not as foolproof as 100 percent,” Osseo-Asare said. “Our best bet is to just mask up and have surveillance testing.”