PLANO, Texas - A temporary mask mandate was approved by the Plano Independent School District board on Monday.
The mask mandate was enacted in a 6-1 afternoon vote and will begin August 26 and go until September 24, unless a new court decision is announced or legislative action is taken.
Masks will be required when inside district buildings and district provided transportation. There are religious, medical and administrative exceptions. Parents who want to opt out of the mask mandate will be allowed to fill out a form.
"We want to get our kids back on campus, we want to get all our kids back in school, and we are in a surge situation we cannot ignore," David Stolle, Plano ISD board president.
Masks have been optional in Plano since the first day of school on Aug. 11. Since then, 190 students and 50 staff members have reported COVID-19 infections. That’s more than at any point last school year. The district has more than 53,000 students.
Plano ISD trustees met for hours in a closed executive session before taking action on the temporary mandate. Before that, passionate parents both for and against a mask mandate showed up early to the standing-room-only contentious emergency meeting. In total, nearly 90 spoke and a majority of them were against a mandate.
"We will not comply with the mask mandate, I will pull my kids out of this school district the moment you mandate masks," said parent Andrew Flanders.
"They both have allergies so even having the mask on them they have eczema too it would cause eczema outbreaks," said Michelle, a parent who is against a mask mandate. "I’m for everyone choosing. I’m not against masks. If you feel comfortable having your child in a mask, please put a mask on your child but please let me decide with my daughter and my family what’s best for my kids."
"I had to make a decision between my kids’ health and education. Don’t mix science with politics," said Zhao, another parent who wants a mask mandate in the district. "I understand people have different political stance. This is about science. This is about saving lives."
"I send her to school every day wondering if she’s going to come home with COVID, wondering if she’s going to need an ICU bed that’s not available," said parent Nicole Bowman.
Last week, the Texas Supreme Court sided with about 50 school districts across the state that have put mandates in place, allowing them to keep requiring masks for now.
A group of doctors and medical professionals reportedly wrote a letter to Plano ISD trustees strongly encouraging them to join in.