By Eduardo Villa
On Tuesday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines, recommending masks for all individuals indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Why it matters: With school starting in about three weeks, the more people who wear a mask and get vaccinated, the better position schools will be in to start. AISD strongly encourages masks, but it's up to parents and students to make sure they follow the CDC’s recommendation because Governor Greg Abbott’s order prevents mask mandates in schools.
- This change brings the CDC into alignment with Austin Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which have both previously updated their guidelines to recommend mask-wearing indoors for everyone.
Local Impact: On Monday, Alexandra Copeland, director of health services for Austin ISD, told the school board that masks were a big reason Austin classrooms were safe last school year.
- Copeland said the district experienced zero student deaths due to COVID, could trace no outbreaks to classroom interactions, and saw much lower infection rates inside Austin classrooms than in the public at large.
- "We know masks work because our classrooms were safe last year when there was a mask mandate. To keep our classrooms safe this year, it's important for parents to send their students to school wearing masks,” said Copeland.
Dive Deeper: Last week, the district released updated health and safety protocols for the new school year. The district includes guidance on masking, vaccines, rapid testing, buses, what to do when you’re sick and eating in the cafeteria.
- Dr. Lauren Meyers with the UT Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium gave an update to the Board of Trustees on Monday.
- “AISD is already implementing the recommended sensible precautions and should continue to be considered at the start and throughout the school year, depending on the COVID situation,” Meyers said.
Driving the News: The COVID-19 Delta variant is the cause of over 80% of infections happening right now in Texas. Vaccines and masks remain an effective way to combat the Delta variant.
- “The more we do now to stop the spread of COVID and vaccinate our communities, the safer and easier the school year will be,” Dr. Meyers said.