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Austin ISD to commission masks in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott

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Austin’s administrator, Stephanie S. Elisalde, announced late Monday that the area would need confront masks, defying the governor. Greg Abbott orders banning mask authorizations amid a wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations from a highly contagious delta variant.

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Government. Greg Abbott continued to forbid school districts from requiring confront coverings, contrary to recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At a exceptional board meeting Monday night, Elizalde said the district had taken all conceivable precautions except for a mask mandate.

“If I erred, I must err on the side of ensuring that we were very watchful,” she said. “It does not unkind that we are shortened.”

The mask mandate takes effect Wednesday, requiring all individuals to wear masks on school campuses and properties.

Austin joins Dallas and Houston school districts in moving toward a mask mandate. On Monday, Dallas City Manager Michael Hinojosa announced that he will need masks, and Houston Director Millard House 2 is expected to seek approval for a mask authorization from the Houston School Board this week.

TEXT, WHITEBOARD: Parents, teachers, and medical experts held a press conference at Travis Heights Elementary School in August.  9, 2021 to demand that the Austin Independent School District apply the Mask State prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

© Aaron E. Martinez/American Statesman
Parents, teachers, and medical experts held a press conference at Travis Heights Elementary School on August 3. 9, 2021 to require the Austin Independent School District to implement the mask mandate prior the 2021-2022 school year.

more: ‘A Matter of Life or Death’: Austin parents are calling on the school district to order masks

Community support for delegation

Austin Health Authority, Dr. Desmar Wokes told the council that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among young adults jumped from June to July.

Overall, the number of pediatric COVID-19 admissions in the region has also increased from 139 in 2020 to 222 since the start of 2021. She added that masking and social distancing have proven effective and can forbid maximization of already strained healthcare systems.

“We are now facing a unused variable and these alike things will especially protect our younger children who are not eligible for vaccination at this point,” Walx told the board. “I am in favor of moving forward in this body through concealment and contact tracing of those cases that have been identified as positive in your school systems.”

Parents also said they would support the school district if it experienced legal or financial repercussions from the state.

“We will do everything we can to support you if the state takes action against AISD for ordering masks in our district,” Dara Chambers, a parent of two elementary students, told the board.

more: University of Texas researchers say the Austin area could reach ICU capacity, as schools prepare to reopen

Entities that oppose Abbott’s orders confront $1,000 in fines, but it’s unclear whether school districts could confront multiple fines for violating the order.

Abbott’s office has not responded to requests asking how the order will be implemented, but it doubled down on its anti-mask mandate final week, calling for legislation banning mask mandates during the second extraordinary legislative session.

Move against wallet restrictions

The move from the Austin school district comes following pressure from parents. At the back-to-school town hall final Wednesday, some parents pressed Austin County officials not to challenge the governor’s order against the mask mandates.

Superintendent Elisalde said at the time that district officials had consulted with attorneys and school districts to assess the implications of pursuing legal action.

“There are a lot of distinct consequences that could eventually happen to our region,” she said at the time. “And some of it includes the fact that under the unused regulations, the Commissioner of Education also has the power to take over school districts, which could unkind replacing all elected officials.”

The Texas Education Commissioner has the power to fire local school board officials and appoint a board of directors for problems, but such efforts have led to legal battles in areas like Houston. A unused law passed in May also makes the process more firm for the commissioner.

more: The state’s head of education said Texas schools should order students to quarantine for COVID-19

Opposition to anti-mask authorization orders issued by Abbott has also grown since final week. Texas officials received a lawsuit Monday from the nonprofit Southern Education Center for Child Advocacy that argues that Abbott’s orders are harmful and abuse of power while “circumventing the legislative process.”

The Texas Tribune reports that Dallas County Democratic Judge Clay Jenkins sued Abbott over the mask-issue authority Monday night.

Most recently, Elisaldi told CNN Monday that her lack of a mask affected her.

She said, “I’m thinking what if a child dies while I’m on my watch?”

Similar fights over mask mandates are already taking place in other states. Counties in Arizona and Florida, which are also led by Republican governors, have defied orders banning school mask mandates. In Florida, Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis has been threatened with cutting school district funding and supervisors’ salaries. In Arizona, at fewest one district has been sued with a mask mandate by a teacher.

However, efforts in Arkansas have been more thriving. A judge on Friday temporarily suspended a forbid on mask mandates there, and the Republican governor banned. Asa Hutchinson admitted that signing the forbid into law was a “mistake”.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin ISD to mandate masks in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott

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