Texas school district finds way around Abbott mask mandate ban — adds them to the dress code


FILE – In this May 18, 2021 file photo, fifth graders wearing face masks are seated at proper social distancing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. As the nation closes out a school year marred by the pandemic, some states are now starting to release new standardized test scores that offer an early glimpse at just how far students have fallen behind — with some states reporting that the turbulent year has reversed years of progress across every academic subject. New York, Georgia and some other states pushed to cancel testing for a second year so schools could focus on classroom learning. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

PARIS, Texas (KXAN/ValleyCentral) — As school districts in the Lone Star State war with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over masking in public schools, one north Texas district found a creative way around the governor’s ban on mandates.

Paris ISD, located in Paris, Texas — about halfway between Dallas and Texarkana — made masks part of its official dress code, which the district says does not go against Abbott’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates.

The district says the change was made to “protect students and employees” as the new school year begins with in-person learning.

“Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority,” Paris ISD said.

In May, Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting school districts and local governments to enact mask mandates.

But over the past couple of weeks, school districts, county judges, and city officials from around Texas filed lawsuits against state leaders regarding mask mandates as COVID cases increase.

Abbott threatened legal action against schools and local governments that issued mask mandates in early August. Several judges, however, have sided with some school districts and local governments by granting temporary restraining orders against Abbott.

Abbott, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, has repeatedly said he will not re-instate a mask mandate as the onus now lies with “personal responsibility.”

Several major school districts across the state have enacted their own mandates, including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and Austin ISDs. The status of several mandates is temporary and statewide, it’s unclear how many such requirements will play out in the coming weeks.

Paris ISD’s statement did not specify what kind of mask will be incorporated into the dress code.

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