Leaders of the Denton and Garland independent school districts have created plans to mandate masks inside school campuses in an effort to curb rising COVID-19 cases.
The Denton ISD, which opened the school year on Aug. 12 with masks being optional, made the change following Tuesday's meeting of board trustees.
Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the mandate was necessary due to the rise in cases since classes reopened earlier this month.
"More specifically, the first two days of class we had less than 10 reported cases. At the end of the first full week of class the number grew to almost 100, and this week we are averaging more than 60 positive COVID-19 cases per day," Wilson said in a statement.
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The change goes into effect Thursday and requires face coverings or masks for students, employees, and visitors in all Denton ISD buildings where physical distancing is not possible. The temporary requirement will be in place until hospitalization access improves and COVID-19 spread slows, Wilson said.
We must take the steps necessary to not only keep our students and staff healthy and safe but also to learn in person with our highly-skilled teachers," Wilson stated. "Our teachers will need your help. Each one of them will now be tasked with ensuring our students wear face coverings while in class and when keeping a physical distance is not possible. We believe it is our responsibility to use every tool available to protect our students and staff."
Masks are also required within Denton's city limits.
In the Garland ISD, face masks will be required beginning Wednesday, Sept. 1 indoors in all campuses, facilities, and buses.
"This temporary mask requirement is subject to medical, religious and/or philosophical exceptions for students and medical and/or religious exceptions for staff through Tuesday, Oct. 26, or until further guidance is provided," the district posted on its website.
Meanwhile, Garland ISD announced Tuesday that it will offer $500 to district employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with an additional $250 offered to employees who receive the COVID-19 booster.