JOSHUA, Texas —
Joshua ISD is the latest school district in North Texas to make face masks optional for students, staff and teachers, starting Tuesday with some exceptions for end-of-year events.
While most districts in North Texas have decided to keep mask mandates, a few districts like Weatherford, Melissa and now Joshua ISDs have removed them via their school boards.
The Joshua ISD school board of trustees voted unanimously to lift the district mask requirement during Monday’s board meeting.
Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded statewide face mask orders on March 10, but face masks are still currently required at schools by the Texas Education Agency. The requirement can be removed by a district's school board, the TEA says.
Joshua ISD covers areas of Burleson, Crowley, Joshua, Egan and the Cleburne communities of Johnson County and has about 5,500 students in attendance.
The district was soliciting feedback from the community and parents in three surveys from March 8-12. The district says it also consulted with local health authorities who gave their recommendation but also approved Joshua ISD’s plan.
Out of 2,269 parents and community members:
52% voted against the mask mandate
40% voted to keep the current mask mandate
8% of respondents were not sure
Out of 630 employees that were surveyed:
47% voted to keep the mask mandate in place
37% voted against the mask mandate
16% were not sure
The district also shared protocols for end-of-year events:
UIL Athletic Events: Masks optional, 100% capacity for all events. Joshua ISD will continue issuing only electronic tickets to alleviate money exchange.
Graduations: Masks optional for both Joshua High School and New Horizon High School graduations; both graduations will take place in Owl Stadium. Each campus will determine the amount of tickets allowed per graduate.
End of Year Awards during the school day (Indoors with guest): Must occur on June 1 or June 2. Each student will be allowed up to four guests. All guests must wear a mask.
End of Year Awards At Night (Indoors with guest): Must occur May 24 - May 27. Each student will be allowed up to four guests. All guests must wear a mask.
End of Year Awards (Outside): Can occur on any date. The campus will determine the number of guests allowed. Masks are optional.
Concerts and Performances: May occur outdoors or in a gym setting; Masks optional.
May occur in Acker Auditorium with the following requirements:
All guest must wear masks
Only 2 guests per student allowed
Only 1 band, 1 choir or 1 class may perform in a concert or performance
“I think we made a good compromise,” said Joshua ISD Board President Ronnie Galbreath. “We gave parents, students, and staff the option to wear a mask, and the surveys were a great tool for us. With the vaccinations that have occurred, and our already low getting lower, it is a good option.”
In the event that cases increase dramatically, district leaders will revisit previous mask requirements.