The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) made headlines on Monday when it announced that masks would be required for staff, students and visitors on any school campus. The move by superintendent Michael Hinojosa is a direct rebuke to Governor Greg Abbott, and a signal that local leaders are not threatened by his political posturing regarding COVID-19.
On MSNBC, Hinojosa explained that the decision to implement the mask mandate was necessary in light of the rapidly escalating number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout north Texas. Pediatric hospitals in north Texas are currently at 97 percent capacity.
“I would rather be safe than sorry,” said Hinojosa.
On Monday evening, Austin ISD also announced a mask mandate for schools. Houston ISD is also expected to follow suit. On Tuesday, Mayor of San Antonio Ron Nirenberg said the city and county were suing Abbott over his executive order banning mask mandates.
Abbott has yet to comment on local ISDs implementing mask mandates. He previously signed executive orders designed to ban local leaders or ISDs from enacting health and safety measures against COVID-19.
The threat to Texas from COVID-19, and the highly contagious Delta variant, has reached a new apex that even Abbott can’t ignore. On Monday, Abbott announced the state was requesting aid from out-of-state healthcare workers. He also called upon Texas hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective surgeries.
In Dallas, Hinojosa said he had received overwhelming support from parents and teachers about the new mask mandate. DISD school board member Ben Mackey also expressed his approval of the health measure. “We have a primary responsibility to keep our students safe in our schools and requiring masks is a critical step,” wrote Mackey on Twitter.
Mike Collier, who formed an Exploratory Committee for Lieutenant Governor, said in a statement that he also stands with ISDs implementing mask mandates: “I am proud to say that I stand with Dallas, Houston and Austin independent school districts and their decisions to refute the governor’s executive order and protect their students, employees, and parents. These superintendents have shown true leadership in the face of crisis and exemplified our Texan values.”
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