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A student stands before board members and administration to talk about mask mandates during an Aug. 24 Denton school board meeting at the Dennis E. Stephens Central Services Building.

Denton ISD officials Monday night changed the wording around mask requirements on all campuses from “required” to “recommended.”

No students were meant to have been disciplined for the prior required mask policy, and the same will be true now that mask-wearing is recommended.

“It’s not anything that’s going to be enforced any differently,” spokesperson Derrick Jackson said Tuesday morning.

Jackson attributed the shift in part to updated guidance from the Texas Education Agency from Sept. 17.

TEA’s guidance instructs school districts that requiring masking on campuses is a breach of Gov. Greg Abbott’s previous executive order forbidding local government mask mandates.

The announcement of Denton ISD’s change came through an email to parents signed by Superintendent Jamie Wilson late Monday evening.

Wilson, in the email, cites declining infections across campuses for the policy wording change.

He begins by thanking parents for helping to reduce infections: “In part, because of your actions, reported cases of COVID-19 in our schools are declining, trending in the right direction. Our combined efforts at school, at home, and in our community are demonstrating our collective commitment to keep our schools open for in-person learning.”

The change comes almost a month after parents and students pushed district officials to create a mask mandate during a board meeting.

Denton ISD reported 173 student and 23 staff infections from Sept. 13-17, according to information reported to Denton County Public Health.

The previous week, which ended on Sept. 10, saw a total of 226 student and staff infections. The week before that — the district’s highest reported week throughout the entire pandemic — saw a total of 378 student and staff infections.

That indicates infections have declined over the past three weeks in Denton ISD, but they remained above the 2020-21 school year record of 164 infections in one week.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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