Burke: Splendora ISD sticking with mask policy for remainder of school year

Dear Splendora ISD Community,

First, I want to thank you for your continued support and trust thus far.  Through the combined efforts of our parents, students, and staff, we have been able to keep our schools open this year.  We only have 48 days of school left, and we remember how difficult and detrimental it was to close schools last March.   We are doing everything we reasonably can to ensure that our schools remain open, our students continue learning, and school-related activities can happen.

On March 2, Governor Abbott announced that he was rescinding the statewide mask order on March 10.  In his announcement, he “strongly encouraged people to wear face coverings wherever it is not feasible to maintain social distancing from another person not in the same household.”

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) followed up the Governor’s announcement with the following guidance: “a public school system’s current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy,” and, that “public school systems consult with their local public health authorities and local legal counsel before making final decisions regarding the implementation of this guidance.”  With the exception of giving local school boards the authority to modify or remove the mask mandate, all other aspects of TEA’s guidance regarding close contact and quarantining remain in place.   

Additional guidance from the Montgomery County Public Health District (MCPHD) requires us to continue quarantining close contact cases. This means that if all parties are not masked and are not able to maintain six feet of distance, then we must quarantine students and staff for 10 days.  With over 90 percent of our students back on campus, it is simply not feasible to maintain six feet of distance, thereby necessitating the continuation of wearing masks.  Requiring masks have resulted in fewer quarantines and the continuation of school and school-related activities.   

It is also vital that our staff have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Only last week did the federal government add school personnel to the vaccine eligibility list. Splendora ISD will encourage its employees to get the vaccine as soon as they can, but this will take time. We are continuing to work with the MCPHD and local providers to make the vaccine available to our employees. 

After much discussion and consideration, the Splendora ISD school board unanimously supports the continuation of our current health and safety protocols, including wearing masks.  The District will continue to evaluate all relative factors on a monthly basis: guidelines from the TEA and the MCPHD, the percentage of community spread, and the availability of vaccinations for all employees who want them, to determine the impact on masking requirements.  

After consideration of these factors, Splendora ISD will continue with our current health and safety protocols, including the requirement that 1st-12th grade students wear masks.  Again, the District will continue to evaluate all relative factors on a monthly basis.

Thank you for your continued support as we do everything we can to finish the year strong.   

Dr. Jeff Burke

Superintendent of Schools

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