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Starting Tuesday, March 23, wearing a face covering is no longer required in outdoor spaces on Marble Falls Independent School District campuses. The board of trustees voted to implement the adjusted safety protocol during a regular meeting March 22. 

Superintendent Dr. Chris Allen told the board that even though the school district can end the requirement for masks inside schools, the danger of COVID-19 has not gone away.

Since a majority of students have returned to campuses for in-person instruction, the school district has required face coverings be worn on school grounds, whether indoors or outdoors. During a presentation to the board, Allen outlined several possible safety protocol options, including a phased approach that gradually eliminates mask wearing in certain scenarios, such as outdoor activities and during passing periods in school hallways. 

After discussion, the board on Monday voted unanimously to continue requiring masks indoors while adopting the first phase of the proposed plan, which makes masks optional in outdoor spaces for the remainder of the school year.

Students, faculty, and staff will have the option to unmask while outside, although there might be some different requirements for employees while they are in specific locations and situations, Allen told Social distancing will still be “emphasized” in outdoor spaces, and guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to be taken into consideration. 

Following Gov. Gregg Abbott’s decision to rescind the statewide mask mandate, the Texas Education Agency was allowed to determine whether face coverings would be mandatory in public schools within the state. The agency chose to continue requiring masks but did give individual school boards the ability to adjust requirements. 

Although the TEA has allowed school boards to determine mask policies by district, some COVID-19 protocols, such as mandatory quarantining periods for those testing positive or those who have come into close contact with a positive person, must remain in place. 

“In order to just maintain operation, you have to quarantine wherever you’ve got close contact,” Board President Kevin Naumann said during the meeting. “At least, in my mind, that’s why we have to be very careful about how we approach this.”