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Salado ISD to require masks at middle school for all students, staff

The school district said the mandate will remain in place until Sept. 8.

SALADO, Texas — The Salado Independent School District issued a mask mandate Wednesday for all students and staff at the middle school. The mandate will be in place on Sept. 2, 3, 7 and 8.

All students and employees will be required to wear masks on the buses and in the building, the district said.

According to a post on the district's Facebook page, the requirement will last until Sept. 8 because the school reached the 2% threshold of cases within a seven day period.

"As long a the percentage is under 2%, we won't require masks at that point," Superintendent Michael Novotny said.

Novotny said 13 students and one employee tested positive which makes up 2.3% of the school's population. The positive tests include lab confirmed and rapid tests. Novotny told 6 News Thursday several employees had lost family members over the last year and a half and the district was tired of tragedy. 

"We've had several employees that have lost immediate family members. We've had a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a father-in-law, an uncle, that have all died from COVID," Novotny said. "Recently a parent of three students died a week ago."

Novotny said they would give staff and students the freedom to choose to wear masks if cases remained low. At the same time, he said, they don't want to risk closing a campus and need to keep the their families safe.

"We've had a lot of schools around the state of Texas close and we certainty want to avoid that," Novotny said. "We know our students do better in face-to-face school. That's what drove the decision to have a threshold for masks." 

Seven of the cases were confirmed positive Aug. 26 which actually puts the percentage at 1.2%, Novotny said.

Novotny said the elementary school was at 0.5% positive. The high school was at 1.1% positive.

Salado ISD is among a handful of Central Texas school districts to issue mask mandates.

Waco ISD put a mask mandate in place for the entire district beginning Aug. 30. Marlin ISD put a mandate in place on Aug. 23.