After hearing from parents on both sides of the mask mandate issue, Plano school board members voted today to impose a month-long mask requirement while giving parents the choice to opt out their kids.

The temporary mask mandate is effective August 26 through September 24 and applies to all Plano Independent School District students and staff. Officials said parents can request medical, religious, or philosophical exemptions for their children and all requests will be accepted.

Dozens of Plano parents and residents spoke at an emergency board meeting scheduled Friday by the district for 8 a.m. Monday morning—short notice and poor timing for parents who work or take kids to school.

Pro-parental choice speakers outnumbered forced-masking proponents by about two to one.

“I am not anti-vaccine; I am not anti-mask. I am anti-force,” said Robin, a mother of four Plano students.

“Educate, don’t mandate,” said Matt Dixon, a local activist with four kids in Plano ISD, adding that mandates don’t work.

Several speakers in favor of keeping masks optional cited studies showing that masking school students is ineffective in reducing COVID spread.

“More than anything else I believe in science,” said Mike Openshaw, a longtime Plano conservative leader with a background in virology. “The data is clear: they cannot show any significant difference between mask-mandate and non-mandate areas.”

Many parents recounted the physical, social, and educational problems their kids suffered under last year’s mask mandate.

Plano mom Semida Voicu reminded the board they are under no order from Collin County to require masks, unlike neighboring Dallas County.

“Have courage to stay the course,” she said.

“You have not been elected to make health care decisions for my children,” a mother of two students with dyslexia told board members. “Your business is education. You’re failing.”

“Masks work—in creating fear,” added another mom asking for parental choice.

The board’s decision was 6-1, with Trustee Angela Powell casting the lone “no” vote.

The policy change comes on the heels of a ruling Thursday by the Texas Supreme Court that temporarily allows school districts across the state to mandate masks, in violation of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates by government entities.

Board President David Stolle said trustees would revisit the issue if future court rulings reinstate Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.

The parental mask exemption form is available online.

Plano parents and staff with questions or concerns can contact school board members and/or district administrators.

Updated to include a link to the mask exemption form.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.