By Robbie Owens

by Robbie Owens | CBS 11

RICHARDSON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The slow return to what passes for ‘normal’ in North Texas schools is thanks to shots in arms… and the local leaders willing to battle pandemic politics in order to follow CDC guidance on masks.

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And now changes are coming.

Mask mandates will soon be moot, in Richardson ISD.

“I think it was about time,” says Alison Fuld, a mother of four ranging from high school to second grade. “I think that we can still be safe without requiring the masks.”

Citing a 95% drop in Covid cases in the district since hitting a high at the beginning of the year, RISD school leaders are now looking to reward that pandemic progress.

“Starting with the second semester in January, masks will be encouraged and optional at all RSD schools and facilities,” shared Superintendent Jeannie Stone during an update posted on the district’s website.

The mask mandate will end at elementary campuses on December 17. The mask mandate was lifted last week at secondary campuses. Still, the district is leaving the door open to respond to a post-holiday surge.

“Our health services team will continue to closely watch the data and positive cases in each school and may temporarily require masks on a class by class or even school by school basis,” says Dr. Stone.

Fuld can see the issue from all sides.

“Many of these high schoolers are active in athletics, and band, and choir– and a lot of times they’re not able to wear the masks, anyway.”

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Experts admit that it’s impossible to know just how many students have quietly recovered from Covid because so many will remain asymptomatic. And that makes Covid a concern still for many parents… including Fuld. So, her second graders will continue wearing masks.

“For me personally, I’ve got two second graders. I feel more comfortable with them wearing masks,” explains Fuld, while adding that her son in junior high also prefers wearing his mask, also they are no longer required. “In an environment and in a population that’s not able to protect themselves by a vaccine just yet, I think it’s a smart, conscientious thing to do.”

Richardson ISD is making it easier for district families to get the vaccine.

Clinics will be held at high school campuses this week and next, with second doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered in December.

Richardson High School hosted a clinic earlier today. Berkner’s clinic is slated for tomorrow, November 12, from 3:00-8:00 pm.

Vaccines will be available at Lake Highlands High School on November 16th, and at Pearce on November 17.

Second doses will be available in December.

For now, Dallas ISD, the largest district in North Texas will leave its mask mandate in place while hoping for no unpleasant surprises after the holidays.

“I think we’re turning the corner,” said Supt. Michael Hinojosa Wednesday while speaking at the Children’s Health Beyond ABC Report Virtual Symposium.

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“Everyone just needs to cooperate so we can get here,” he said.