ROUND ROCK, Texas - Starting Thursday, Round Rock parents will no longer be able to opt their students out of the school district’s mask mandate. The decision came from the Round Rock ISD school board late Tuesday night.
Round Rock ISD’s mask mandate has been in effect for a week, but with the caveat that parents could opt-out with no questions asked. Around 10:30 Tuesday night, the board voted 5 to 2 to keep the mask mandate but get rid of the "opt-out with no questions asked" component. Prior to that vote, the school board heard about three hours of comment from parents and students.
The vote came amid a continued rise in COVID cases within Round Rock ISD. Right now, there are 68 active COVID cases, and there have been a total of 202 positive cases since the start of the school year.
Overall, opinions at the meeting were relatively evenly split Tuesday night between those in favor and opposed to the mask mandate—with proponents citing concerns about safety and the spread of the virus, and opponents saying mandating masks infringes on their personal freedoms.
"We’re mandated that we can't speed, we can't drink and drive. And that's not for our own good, it's for the good of the public. After World War II, this country rationed greatly for the good of the country. None of that was against our rights, and neither are masks," said one parent.
"This is an illegal order. You're in direct defiance of the governor of Texas. And AG Paxton already said he's going to sue any school district that defies him," said another parent. "We voters aren't going away. We're activated now. You're going to see a lot of us."
Some who testified were students, ranging in age from elementary to high school.
"We need to make sure that there is a mask mandate where there is no choice. If we do a mask mandate that has a choice, more people will opt-out and that will cause the virus to get worse," said an elementary school student who testified.
"I should have the right to not have to wear a mask in school. I should be able to choose to wear a mask or not to wear a mask," said another elementary school student. "I have dyslexia so it’s harder to learn with a mask."
The mask mandate minus the opt-out provision goes into effect at 12:01 AM Thursday. It expires on September 17th. The board will reconvene next month to decide whether or not to extend it. Exceptions will be made to the mask policy for medical and developmental conditions.
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