District establishes masks as optional for 2021-22

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Mark Chrissan

Displaying the school board’s decision, the graphic explains the face mask policy for the 2021-2022 school year. The district announced April 19 that face masks will be optional for students and staff in the coming school year. “Personally, I think it’s great that they made masks optional because hopefully by that time everyone will be vaccinated if they’re able to,” junior Alyssa Clark said. “By making masks optional, people can choose the decision that works best for their lifestyle.”

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With the increasing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the district announced Monday, April 19, that face coverings will be optional for the 2021-2022 school year.

While other districts took action to make masks optional after Governor Greg Abbott’s March 10 announcement to reopen Texas and lift the mask mandate, the Prosper Independent School District decided to require face masks through the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. Superintendent Holly Ferguson said the school board intends to make masks optional for students and staff next year, and principal John Burdett said the decision is for the entirety of the school year, unless the pandemic causes a “change in course.”

“Dr. Ferguson and our PISD School Board continue to model servant leadership through this worldwide pandemic,” Burdett said. “They model shared leadership by seeking the input of all of our stakeholders, and they model discernment by taking a myriad of information from multiple sources to fully and ethically consider issues and then take ethical actions.”

The Prosper ISD School Board sends out the announcement with this flyer attached that in the coming 2021-2022 school year, masks would be made optional for both students and staff. The district is standing by this decision unless a change occurs within COVID-19 pandemic. “One of the many things that makes me very proud to serve as the principal of PHS and to have my own kids attend schools in PISD is that Dr. Ferguson and our PISD School Board always place the safety and well-being of all students at the forefront when making decisions,” principal John Burdett said. “This is evident in our recent decision that masks will be optional for staff and students in the fall.” (Photo Courtesy of Prosper ISD)

Following the announcement, students are looking forward to not wearing masks.

“I think it’s great,” senior Logan Creel said. “They’re listening now. The masks have had a negative psychology effect on us and next year should be better for the kids that are still here.”

While some students have expressed mixed reactions.

“Personally, I think it’s great that they made masks optional because hopefully by that time everyone will be vaccinated if they’re able to,” junior Alyssa Clark said. “By making masks optional, people can choose the decision that works best for their lifestyle. I’ll still be wearing a mask even though I’m vaccinated.”

Other students said they have “concerns” about the decision.

“I’m not sure how I feel about no masks next year,” junior Amanda Hare said. “I think they’re necessary now, but that’s (the 2021-2022 school year) four months from now, so we don’t know what COVID-19 will look like then. If more people are vaccinated and the number of cases has decreased, though, then I’d be glad to have no more masks required.”

Sophomore Madeleine Wentz also felt it was “too early” to make the decision.

“I think that so much can and will change over the summer, so it’s too early to call,” Wentz said. “If everyone stays diligent and many get vaccinated then I feel like that’s a good decision, but again, one that can’t be made until later this summer.”

Freshman Hank Ryan said he felt “awful” about the decision.

“Until everyone can get the vaccine, the pandemic will only get worse,” Ryan said. “I do feel if people understand not wearing a mask is risking their health then so be it, but I’m wearing a mask.”

For now, the school board stands by its decision to make masks optional in the coming fall.

“One of the many things that makes me very proud to serve as the principal of PHS and to have my own kids attend schools in PISD is that Dr. Ferguson and our PISD School Board always place the safety and well-being of all students at the forefront when making decisions,” Burdett said. “This is evident in our recent decision that masks will be optional for staff and students in the fall.”

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