TEMPLE, Texas The Temple Independent School District announced in their contingency plans for the fall on Thursday they will require all students and staff to wear masks while in school.
Temple ISD is the first district in the area to make masks mandatory for the entire district, even for elementary students, most of whom are under the age of ten and therefore not required to wear them in public.
Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott believes they won’t have a hard time getting the students to conform to the new policy.
“Students want to be in school, for the most part,” Ott said. “They’re willing to do the things it takes to make sure they have that opportunity.”
Even with the new rules in place, there are some options for relief from the mask.
“You don’t have to have the mask on the entire day,” Ott said. “It’s only when personal spacing is compromised. So if I’m a teacher, and I’m up in front of the class, and my students are spread out, they don’t have to have a mask on during class. But if I’m walking in the hallway during a passing period, I need to have my mask on.”
Ott also doesn’t find it hard to keep elementary age students in line with wearing face coverings for the entire school day.
“What I find in elementary students, in particular, is they’re more willing to be compliant,” Ott said. “Yeah, they’re a little restless. But when a teacher talks to them and says, ‘Hey, you need to make sure you honor the dress code and do this’ or ‘You need to make sure you put your mask on,’ they’re typically more compliant.”
Last week, Governor Greg Abbott said any school that had a student test positive for COVID-19 should shut down for five days and be sanitized.
As part of Temple ISD’s plan, they did not say they would shut schools down if a student tested positive.
“We would use disinfectant and deep cleaning on the areas we’re supposed to, directed by the Health Department,” Ott said. “The ones that need to be self-isolated, we would make sure they’re contacted and they’re self-isolated as well. I mean, we would follow all the protocols.”
Students have the option to spend the school year taking online classes. Faculty and staff do not have the same option.
“When you have in-person education, then your staff really doesn’t have much of an option [but to go to work],” Ott said. “School districts are working very hard to accommodate those staff members that are in those risky situations, but wearing a mask is a really good safety measure that helps protect our staff.”
Students can opt out of taking classes on-campus until August 7.