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How local school districts are handling mask rules

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Posted at 3:43 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 19:59:38-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to allow facemasks to be worn in public schools has many area schools breathing a sigh of relief.

Though Sunday’s temporary stay was invalidated on a technicality – it was ultimately denied because Abbott bypassed the appellate courts, circumventing proper procedure -- it allows school districts to legally continue enacting individual mask mandates.

Area school districts, which are almost all back to school, are capitalizing on this decision.

Kingsville ISD adopted a mask mandate late Friday, while Alice ISD issued a mask mandate on its campuses beginning Monday. Riviera ISD also is requiring masks on its campus but opt-out forms also are available.

Several local school districts such as Brooks County, Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco, West Oso and Jim Hogg ISD issued mask mandates for its students and staff earlier this week and last week, despite the supreme court’s having batted down 345th District Court Judge Jan Soifer’s ruling allowing Austin ISD to enact its mask requirement.

“Our children are our most precious commodity," WOISD Executive Director of Special Education and Student Services R.J. Alvarado said. "We don’t want anything to happen with them. With the Delta variant, it is attacking children."

Abbott issued his mask-mandate ban May 18, disallowing city and county governmental entities in Texas and public schools from requiring masks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in their buildings and on their campuses.

"The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities," Abbott said in a statement back in May. "We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

On Sunday, Corpus Christi Independent School District and Robstown Independent School District announced a mask requirement for all their schools and district facilities but that didn't stay in place. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales decided not to enforce a county-wide mask mandate that she ordered earlier on Sunday due to the Texas Supreme Court decision regarding Dallas and San Antonio's mask mandates. Due to this reverse in course, CCISD and Robstown ISD decided to return to their previous guidance, highly encouraging masks on all campuses.

As of Friday, the districts have not changed these policies, but they are continuing to urge those 12 and older to get vaccinated to minimize the spread of COVID-19.