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Kilgore ISD has dropped its mask mandate and other COVID restrictions as case numbers fall.

Kilgore ISD board members moved to rescind the district’s mask mandate, as well as removing or relaxing other COVID-19 restrictions put into place during the pandemic, at Monday’s school board meeting.

The changes were presented by Superintendent Andy Baker, who noted the new lifted restrictions were part of the board’s approach of gradually reducing restrictions as COVID cases decline locally and vaccination rates go up.

Last month, the board decided to remove mask mandates for students and school staff while at outdoor school activities and, effective at the end of this week, masks will no longer be required inside KISD campus facilities. Masks are also no longer required on KISD school buses, but Baker said KISD will continue its protocol of deep-cleaning and sanitizing school buses, classrooms and school facilities.

Masks and face coverings may be worn, depending on the choice of individual students and staff.

Baker also recommended ending KISD’s at-home learning program, first offered at the outset of the pandemic, though the district will still offer virtual and remote learning opportunities for students.

“We’ve always offered virtual learning,” Baker said. “We’ve encouraged our teachers for many, many years past to work with our Google Classrooms and to work toward that idea of virtual learning. We’re not talking about taking away all of our virtual learning. We’re just talking about taking away Kilgore ISD’s response to COVID, which was online remote learning.”

Campus principals at the meeting said only about 20 students in the district are still using remote learning, and some of those remaining in the program are no longer engaging with the lessons and content.

Baker also recommended ending the policy of requiring KISD employees to self-screen for signs of COVID-19 infection, as well as removing the district’s practice of contact tracing infected individuals.

Safety and caution are still a priority, Baker said, and social distancing will still be encouraged. Hand sanitizer stations, disinfectant wipes and masks are still in supply at campuses and will be provided as necessary.

Board trustee Alan Clark made a motion to adopt the COVID-19 protocol changes presented by Baker, which was seconded by board member Lloyd Vanderwater. The board voted unanimously to pass the motion, which will go into effect Friday, May 21, the day after the last day of school. This will be in place for summer school, summer activities and the 2021-2022 school year.

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