Resolution to Texas school mask battle ‘could take months’ despite ruling

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A resolution to the ongoing battle over face coverings in Texas public schools “could take months” despite a federal ruling overturning Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.

KXAN spoke with Kym Davis Rogers, a litigation attorney with Disability Rights Texas, the group leading a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Rogers said the state will almost certainly appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

“They have indicated that they will appeal to the Fifth Circuit,” Rogers said, adding, “We think we have the right arguments. Five other district courts in the country have agreed with us.”

Seven families of children with disabilities sued the state, claiming the ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and denies their students a chance to attend class in-person safely.

Wednesday, Paxton tweeted his agency was “considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”

Pichardo family (Photo: Karina Pichardo)
Pichardo family (Photo: Karina Pichardo)

Karina Pichardo, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said she and her 11-year-old daughter Miranda, who has Down Syndrome, felt a “sigh of relief” when the ruling came down.

Pichardo said her daughter recently received her first dose of the child COVID-19 vaccine, but said she would still like to see masks in schools.

“I think it’s just another layer of protection for her,” Pichardo said.

Back in August, Abbott issued a statement reading, in part: “We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the Governor’s executive orders — and violating parental rights — is not the way to do it.”

Many school districts across the state defied the governor, imposing mask mandates on their own. KXAN reached out to 22 Austin-area districts (including Austin ISD, which has a mandate in place). All said Wednesday’s ruling would not immediately impact their masking rules either way.

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