HAYS COUNTY (KXAN) — Students at Hays Consolidated Independent School District will return to school much like they ended last school year with in-person and virtual learning options, except students will not be required to wear a mask this time around.
Gov. Greg Abbott says schools are not allowed to mandate masks, and Hays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said he’d prefer that decision be made locally.
“I would love for it to be a local decision however the governor has taken that out of our hands,” Wright said.
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued his own order going against Abbott and mandating masks at all Hays County schools including Hays CISD. The list is growing of superintendents following local orders and not Abbott’s, but Dr. Wright says he will not do that.
“I applaud those districts that are making that move and trying to mandate it,” he said, “but I think at this point it may be disingenuous.”
School districts could face fines for going against Abbott’s order. Wright says until Abbott changes course, the school district doesn’t have the authority to enforce a mask mandate.
“What’s going to happen when those kids show up on the first day of school and the superintendent and the board has given their word that 100% of the people have masks,” Wright said, “and then what happens when 20-30% don’t have their mask on?”
Wright says the district strongly urges everyone to wear masks, and will offer a virtual option for some students. About 300 students have applied to do virtual learning to start the year, he said. He’s encouraged, however, by the vaccination rate going up within the district’s staff.
“I would say about 80% or more of our staff has been vaccinated,” he said. “That gives me some comfort knowing our students 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine, those numbers are continuing to increase.”