Austin ISD is going mask-optional starting Monday, March 7.

Why it matters: The mask mandate worked when vaccines weren’t available for all students and helped students and staff weather the Delta and Omicron surges. Now that guidance from public health experts is changing, we need to update our protocols.

Driving the news: Last Friday, the CDC unveiled a new tool called COVID-19 Community Levels that sorts counties into high-, medium-, and low-risk categories by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases.

  • Recommendations for low-risk counties do not include masking, just staying up to date on vaccinations and getting tested if you show symptoms.
  • Travis County is a low-risk county. So, the CDC does not recommend masks for Austin, even indoors, unless…
  • The CDC still recommends masking for anyone who isn’t vaccinated.

By the numbers: We’ve seen a 97% drop in student and staff cases in the past six weeks.

  • To put that in perspective, our current case total (59) represents 0.09% of our total students and staff.

The bottom line: Masks are one layer of protection along with staying up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine, getting tested, and staying home when you’re sick.

  • We’re still committed to hosting frequent vaccine clinics and testing sites to limit community spread.

  • N95 masks will be available for students and staff at every campus if they want one.

  • Together we’ve made it through this pandemic with grace, resilience, and a strong commitment to our community. The pandemic isn’t over, but we’ll continue working together to keep each other safe and to support all students.

Go deeper: Get more details in our FAQs.