Parents mull over learning options as mask mandate ends at Dallas ISD schools

During the last two weeks of class, masks are optional at Dallas ISD schools. Parents do have the option to move their kids virtual if they're uncomfortable.

After a year of back and forth in the classroom, Emily Castillo says her family has come to a decision that her 9-year-old nephew will switch once again from in-person learning to virtual learning for the final two weeks of school.

"They are a high-risk household," she said. "They are immunocompromised with age and other health concerns that come with age."

Castillo’s mom and dad are her nephew’s legal guardians. 

One week ago, Gov. Greg Abbott announced he’s forcing school districts in Texas to drop all mask mandates after classes finish on June 4, despite the CDC’s recommending masks remain in the classroom at least through the end of the school year.

For many districts, school’s done by June 4. But that’s not the case for Dallas and Fort Worth ISD.

Castillo says her parents went into a panic. Both are vaccinated but still uneasy about masks being optional at the third grader’s school, BH Macon Elementary.

"Now you have a whole population of kids who are not eligible for the vaccinations in an area where almost every family has been hit by COVID. it’s really worrisome," Castillo said.

Dallas ISD tells FOX 4 it wants to be clear parents can pull their students from in person at any time during this school year, even though it highly encourages face-to-face learning. 

The district also highly encourages masks to be worn inside all buildings once the mandate is dropped. 

But the decision will be a personal one. 

At last check on Tuesday, Dallas ISD says around 60% of students are on campus and 40% are virtual. The district says it’s possible the virtual learning numbers will increase come June 7. 

As for Castillo, she’s thankful her family chose to be cautious.

"It shouldn’t be a choice protecting one’s own safety and health and going to school for two weeks," she said. "That shouldn’t be a position these school districts have to put parents into."

DISD says parents can make that decision at any time, however, an advance notice is recommended.