Dallas Independent School District
disd facemasks

Dallas defies governor's order and mandates masks for students and teachers

Aug. 9, 2021
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa imposed the mask requirement despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order that bars schools from doing so.

The Dallas school district will require students and teachers to wear masks at its campuses, defying Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that prohibits districts from issuing mask mandates.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas, the state's second largest district, is the first school system in the state to flout the governor’s order. Houston — the state’s largest district — is considering such a move. and its board is meeting later this week.

Dallas School Superintendent Michael Hinojosa announced the mask requirement during a Monday morning press conference, saying that it was within his discretion to ensure the health and safety of his employees and the district’s students.

In a statement, Ben Mackey, Dallas’ board president, said he was fully supportive of Hinojosa’s stance.

“The superintendent is the educational leader and chief executive officer of our school district tasked with the day-to-day operations of the district, which includes implementing safety protocols,” Mackey said. “Requiring masks for staff and students while on district property is a reasonable and necessary safety protocol to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and the new delta variant."

Abbott’s executive order, issued in May, bars public schools and the Texas Education Agency from issuing any requirements on mask usage. Those who defy Abbott’s order could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000. It’s unclear how such a penalty could be applied to school districts.

The governor faces a lawsuit from the Southern Center for Child Advocacy, an education nonprofit, which is seeking a temporary restraining order to set aside the governor's edict.

Abbott’s executive order puts Texas students “at risk of imminent irreparable harm due to the likelihood they will contract COVID-19 if school districts are not authorized to require masks for students and staff,” the lawsuit argues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — while supporting a return to in-person learning — recommends that everyone inside schools wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Parents and teachers have been pleading with Abbott to allow local officials to determine what’s best for their own communities, arguing that masks are among the strongest protections against the spread of Covid-19.

Some Dallas students are already back in school, but the majority of children return Aug. 16.

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