DALLAS (KXAN) — Dallas Independent School District became the first school district in Texas to make masks mandatory — despite Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask requirements in public schools.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa announced Monday that a mandate will be put in place beginning Tuesday, but it will be temporary.
“Unlike last year, we had the opportunity to pivot for virtual instruction,” said Hinojosa. “There is no virtual option at this time. However, I’m having my team look at it to see if we can pull it off. We would get no state funding. But I don’t want to lose students to home school, no school, private school, charter school. To Texas Tech, to UT Austin. They can provide a virtual option. We can’t.”
The mask mandate will apply to all people while on district property. Hinojosa says he’s still working with his team on what consequences people who don’t mask up will face.
The district’s announcement comes as both the new school year and a COVID-19 case surge coincide. And all while children under the age of 12 can’t even get vaccinated. This COVID cataclysm also happens to include the delta variant, which health experts say is showing to be more virulent with children than previous strains.
Dallas ISD is the second largest district in Texas, with over 153,000 students and more than 22,000 staff members. Houston ISD is set to vote on a similar mask mandate on Thursday.
On Monday, a group made up of over 100 Austin ISD parents, teachers and students gathered to demand the district in Texas’ Capitol do more to protect students. Safe Schools for All urged the Austin ISD school board to enact face mask protocols — promising the board would have the groups’ backing if consequences should arise.
“My family carries a genetic blood disorder that can make COVID-19 extra dangerous. My kid has it. I have it. Mom has it. Sisters have it…. I’ve been looking forward to sending the kids back to school and keeping my job. If the mask mandate doesn’t happen, that might not happen either,” Austin ISD parent Mary Helen McNally explained Monday. “All of us are gonna be out of work because we’re going to be forced to choose between our child’s safety and our family’s security.”
The Austin ISD board’s gathering for a special meeting Monday night, with many speculating it could become the latest Texas district to defy the governor’s orders. Last week, Abbott said the time for mandates had passed and that “the path forward relies on personal responsibility.”