Dallas ISD says that starting tomorrow, it will temporarily require “all staff, students, and visitors” to wear a mask on school district campuses. That goes against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, issued in May, preventing schools from imposing such a mask mandate.
It’s unclear what Abbott might or can do about the state’s second biggest school district disregarding his order. (The fine for violating his order is a measly $1,000.) Houston ISD, the state’s other biggest school district, is set to vote on its own mask mandate this week. School officials in both districts are responding to spiking hospitalization rates driven by the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19. Children under 12 are still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state education agency has also said it won’t help school districts pay for virtual instruction, but Dallas ISD is also considering bringing back online learning for the fall semester, NBC DFW reported last week.
In a news release, Dallas ISD says the governor’s order “does not limit the district’s rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students.”
Effective Tuesday, August 10, to protect staff and students from the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, Dallas ISD is temporarily requiring all staff, students and visitors to wear masks when on district property.
The announcement comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dallas County Health officials have raised the COVID-19 alert to level red and reported that hospitalizations are rising at the fastest rate since the pandemic began, among all age groups, including children. Students under 12 are not eligible for a vaccine, however, school attendance is mandatory, and virtual learning is not an option at this time.
In keeping with the top priority of safeguarding the health and well-being of staff and students, the district will continue to provide masks and sanitizer at district facilities and will continue contact tracing.
Governor Abbott’s order does not limit the district’s rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students. Dallas ISD remains committed to the safety of our students and staff.