Spring ISD joins growing list of Texas districts defying Abbott's mask order

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- As Spring ISD students head back to the classroom Wednesday, they won't be required to wear masks, but not for long.

Thirty-three thousand students will return to in-person classes in Spring ISD, and with that will come some changes.

Effective Monday, Aug. 16, Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson says the district will require mask wearing for all students, staff and visitors in all district buildings, regardless of vaccination status. This comes as cases of the delta variant continue to raise concerns.

Spring ISD is the latest Texas district to defy Gov. Greg Abbott's mask ban. They will also conduct contact tracing within Spring ISD, rather than referring positive cases to Harris County Public Health for tracing. They're committed to letting families and staff know of any positive COVID-19 cases.

"I would like to think of this not so much as a defiance, but ensuring our community and ensuring our parents that we are focused on making sure we can do everything that we can to mitigate the situation." Dr. Watson said Wednesday morning.

The district will also gauge parents' interest in a possible virtual class option through a survey. Virtual learning was canceled after state funding wasn't authorized.

Here's the full statement from the district:
"As promised, I'm updating you on some changes we've made to our COVID-19 health and safety protocols. This evening, I announced at our board meeting that we will be requiring the wearing of masks for all students, staff, and visitors to our district buildings and campuses - regardless of vaccination status. This safety protocol will go into effect on Monday, Aug. 16.

Additionally, we will be providing contact tracing within Spring ISD, rather than referring those positive cases to Harris County Public Health for contact tracing. We also will let our families and staff know about any positive cases on our campuses or in our district facilities by sending out a general communication to those at the campus or at the affected work location.

We made these changes to ensure everyone feels like they are getting the information they need about COVID-19 in our school community. For families and staff who were with us for the 2020-21 school year, you'll remember how this process worked. If there was a positive case on the campus, our Emergency Management & School Safety team would handle the contact tracing, and our principals/administrators would work with our Communications Department to send out a general notification. This process worked very well last year, so we want to continue with it as long as necessary.

In addition, tomorrow (Aug. 11) we will be sending out a survey to all parents/guardians asking about your potential interest in a remote learning option. As you may know, we had been planning to move forward with our Spring Virtual Academy until we learned in June that funding had not been authorized.

We understand from all of your feedback that many families would still like this as an option. Based on the responses to the survey, we're going to look at all possibilities in providing this virtual alternative to students. We will keep you updated as we move forward, including how to apply."


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