Leander ISD requiring masks for students, staff starting Wednesday

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LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Leander Independent School District is the latest Texas school district to mandate mask-wearing despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order preventing mask mandates in public schools.

Effective Wednesday, August 18, Leander ISD says it is elevating its COVID-19 response to “Red” level as cases surge in the area, directing all students, teachers, staff members and visitors to wear masks indoors, including buses.

It’s a move Michelle Gray, a Leander ISD parent, is celebrating.

“My son has been dealing with Crohn’s Disease since he was 8-years-old,” said Gray.

Michelle Gray’s son is a senior at Vandegrift High School rather than being stuck in remote learning, she wanted him to make the most of his last year.

“I really believe in our district, I think they’ve done an excellent job for our kids,” said Gray.

After four days of students in class, LISD has added 87 new cases to the dashboard. District officials say the highest count total last January was 130 cases over the course of an entire week.

“Right now, we’re just taking it day by day,” said Gray. “If it becomes super dangerous, then we have options as to what we might do.”

At Vandegrift, parents received a notification of a positive COVID-19 case Monday. The numbers don’t alarm everyone out there though.

“My daughter has been vaccinated, we’ve been vaccinated,” said Rachel Farrar. “She wears a mask, and washes her hands. I think it’s just something we have to live with. I’m not concerned with it at all. I think the teachers have their safety at the highest priority.”

Students will have the option to remove masks while eating or while outdoors, however.

LISD says it’ll keep the requirements in place through Sept. 10. The school board will meet Sept. 9 and will discuss a possible extension if necessary.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to self-isolate for 10-days, and students who come in close contact are asked to quarantine. The district does not report the number of students who are quarantining.

The district also says they’re working to facilitate learning at home for students unable to attend school. If students have to be out for the 10-day period, then those days are counted as excused absences.

In recent weeks, many Texas districts, big and small, have enacted their own mask mandates — stirring both support and ire. Several other big Texas districts that will require masks in the new school year — at least for now — include Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston ISDs.

Austin Independent School District began requiring masks at all of its campuses and offices last week, before students even returned for in-person learning.

Locally, Eanes, Pflugerville, and Round Rock ISDs passed their own mask requirements, though parents can opt-out of the Round Rock ISD mandate.

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