AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Face masks for AISD staff and students will soon be optional.
In a special board meeting Wednesday afternoon, the board of trustees decided to make face masks optional for staff and students pre-kindergarten through fifth grade beginning Monday.
Amarillo ISD plans to ease into lifting mask restrictions starting with the younger grades.
Come May 17th, masks will be optional for all students in the district.
AISD superintendent Doug Loomis says this decision was not an easy one and there was not a win during the board meeting.
Beginning Monday, masks will not only be optional for students, but also for teachers of those teaching grades pre-k through fifth grade.
Loomis says this comes at a time when teachers have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.
“For pre-k through fifth grade, masks are optional. Still, highly encouraged but optional. Parents get the choice back and that also includes adults that are at the building. They will have an option,” said Loomis.
In a special meeting of the board of trustees, many parents and community members voiced their opinions over masks being required at school.
Out of dozens of public comments, only three people were in favor of keeping the mask mandate, one of them being the chief medical officer of Northwest Texas hospital.
“There’s always that concern, are we letting our guard down just a little too early? I think that’s the implications, could this open the door to the schools being the source of spread of a variant in our community as we try and finish out this school year?” said Brian Weis, chief medical officer at NWTHS.
Dr. Weis says with the new variants being discovered, it’s hard to know where the community stands in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Nobody enjoys wearing a mask. My kids complain about everything. They don’t complain about wearing a mask at school because they enjoy being in school with their peers,” said Lucaunia Poole, AISD parent.
Poole was one of two parents who expressed her support for keeping masks.
The majority of the parents and community member in attendance wanted to see the mask mandate become optional, claiming it takes away from their freedom.
“The mandate is lifted in Texas now. If these teachers are still scared, they should be locked at home because my kid doesn’t have to wear a mask anywhere in this town,” said London Kolp, AISD parent.
For the time between now and May 17, when masks will become optional for everyone, Loomis will create administrative regulations on when and where masks are required for students sixth grade and up and allowing for more mask breaks.