Two of Texas’ largest school districts are defying Gov. Gregg Abbott’s orders about mask mandates and requiring the face coverings, despite what the state has set out as clarification of individuals’ rights.
According to a report in NBC News Superintendents in Dallas and Austin have made separate announcements as of several days ago, saying that they will require masks in an effort to fend off the new coronavirus variation that has swept the nation.
The mask mandates were handed down after Abbott stated that the government couldn’t require masks on government property, saying that it was the right of Americans to decide whether they wanted to cover their faces:
“As the superintendent of the second-largest district in Texas, I’m responsible for everything. Most importantly, the safety of our students and staff and families,” Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said at a news conference streamed by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “So I need to implement whatever safety protocols I feel are in the best interest of our school district,” he said, adding that the situation with the delta variant has gotten “significantly more urgent.”
A third district, San Antonio, will also be sporting face coverings after a judge issued a temporary restraining order which allowed the city and counties to defy the governor’s mandate issued recently.
230 schools are affected in one area according to NBC News, which states that students, staff, and visitors will need to wear the masks, but the school does allow for this being a temporary order and said they don’t know how long it will be in place in Dallas.
“We will continue to monitor the cases in consultation with the Dallas County Health and Human Services,” the district said.
In central Texas, the 5th largest district in the state, the Austin Independent School District, has imposed a mask mandate that began days ago and encompasses 125 schools.
The Austin Independent School District, the fifth-largest in the state, has also imposed the same mask mandate. It begins Wednesday for the district’s 125 schools. The board’s president, Geronimo M. Rodriguez Jr., said last Monday that the requirement is an effort to help protect children who cannot be vaccinated, such as those under 12.
“I am responsible for the safety, health, and welfare of each and every one of our students and our staff,” Elizalde said in a statement. “If I err, I must err on the side of ensuring that we’ve been overly cautious, not that we have fallen short.”
It was May when the Texas Republican governor banned Schools from issuing mask mandates, and his office responded to the Texan’s mask-wearing rebellion on Tuesday “We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the Governor’s executive orders — and violating parental rights — is not the way to do it.
“Governor Abbott has been clear that the time for mask mandates is over; now is the time for personal responsibility. Parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not, just as with any other decision in their child’s life,” his press secretary said via email.
“Governor Abbott has spent his entire time in office fighting for the rights and freedoms of all Texans, and our office continues working with the Office of the Attorney General to do just that. The best defense against this virus is the Covid vaccines, and we continue to strongly encourage all eligible Texans to get vaccinated.”
While it’s unclear whether the school districts planned to allow students with medical conditions that made masking untenable, it is clear that they are defying the wishes of the elected officials in the state of Texas and working to circumvent the rights as laid out by the constitution and those the people of Texas put in office.