Austin ISD students return to school completely masked as the battle for the Texas mandate continues

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin Independent School District students returned to school on Tuesday, fully masked and in accordance with local health orders.

Inside Sanchez Elementary School, young children sat in rows with masks covering their noses and mouths. Almost the same could be seen at the newly renovated Eastside Early College High School, where teens strolled down the hallways and took notes in the classrooms, fully fulfilling the mask’s mandate.

The district said 1,157 students chose not to learn virtually after AISD announced that masks would be required on campus. The superintendent, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, said she will maintain that stance until local health leaders say it’s okay to do the opposite.

“During the time period when the data indicates that this is something we need to do, we will do it,” Elizalde said. “When the data indicates it’s okay to relax our masking again, we’ll do the same.”

But not everyone is happy with politics.

A father of an elementary-aged child told KXAN he would adhere to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, which says masks should be the parents’ choice.

For cases like this, AISD officials said they were working on building trust with dissenting families to make sure they understand the district’s policies. An AISD spokesman also said the supply of masks is large enough to offer one to any child who needs it.

“Our community, although they may have differences of opinion, come together to say: “We do this for everyone, together” Said Elizalde. “When doctors in our community tell us they need our help, shouldn’t we teach each other that we’re trying to help the community?”

The teachers KXAN spoke to on Tuesday said they were delighted to have children on campus to learn in person.

“Education is very different when you can meet students face to face,” said Dr. Sanford Jeames, an educator at Eastide Early College High School. “We have a new beginning. Not just in a new school, but all over the nation and the world. They are really looking at young people to guide us towards an unplanned and unstructured future ”