Richardson ISD will continue to require masks for the first day of school Aug. 17.
The district first updated its policies last week to include universal masking after a Dallas County mask mandate was ordered by Judge Clay Jenkins. The Texas Supreme Court has since moved to block the enforcement of mask mandates in Dallas County.
RISD shared that it will be requiring masks on campus going into this school year based on a separate court ruling that temporarily restrains Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order against mask mandates in Texas school districts. This ruling came from a Travis County court on Aug. 16.
“Richardson ISD will follow the law,” Superintendent Jeannie Stone said in a video update Aug. 17. “This [Travis County] ruling, at least temporarily, puts this decision where it should be—at the local level.”
A hearing on Aug. 25 will determine the standing of the Travis County ruling.
With the start of school a day away, there are currently 49 reported cases of COVID-19 among employees, and the parents of 50 students have also reported positive cases of the virus. Reports of full pediatric ICU units in the region and the speed at which the Delta variant spreads were also taken into consideration when making this decision, Stone said.
“I still believe now more than ever our students need to be back in school with us,” Stone said. “But we have to do everything we can to mitigate this virus, so we will require masks for the time being.”
The deadline for parents of elementary students to choose a virtual classroom option has been reopened and extended through Tuesday, August 17 at midnight. Virtual students will begin the school year on Aug. 23.
The district will remain in contact with Dallas and Richardson health authorities and will follow any changes to the legal situation, Stone said.
The Blueprint, RISD’s health and safety plan for the year, will be updated with the latest changes.
Neighboring Dallas ISD will also require masks going into the 2021-22 academic year.