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Argyle ISD makes masks optional, still practices ‘social distancing’

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The Argyle Independent School District (ISD) made masks optional May 10, Superintendent Telena Wright told the Dallas Express.

“Social distancing, hand sanitizing, hand washing, dividers and temperature scanners remain in place,” she said.

Further adjusted guidelines for this fall will likely be decided in July, Wright said.

The governor’s webpage reported that Gov. Greg Abbott lifted mask mandates in Texas 100%, including businesses, back on March 2. On May 18, the website said the governor had issued an executive order prohibiting government agencies, cities, counties and school districts from mandating the wearing of masks and those who did do would be subject to a possible $1,000 fine. 

There has been some recent confusion about guidelines at the state level. A report in Texas Monthly said that last spring after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made the wearing of masks mandatory and was criticized by conservatives for it, Abbott relaxed the restrictions.

Positive cases of the virus then spiked.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff instituted a mandate mask order in response.

On June 16, Abbott said that was his plan all along.

“Pursuant to my plan, local governments can require stores and businesses to require masks,” he was quoted in Texas Monthly. “That’s what was authorized in the plan.”           

In other words, Abbott wanted to allow local officials to mandate masks in business places, without the governor mandating them himself. Critics called this a “loophole.”

Others have called it a “riddle” and a confusing way to do business while some detractors labeled it a political ploy, being as vague as possible to placate the right wing and avoid the blistering the governor will get if he attempts to impose new restrictions.

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said on his webpage. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces.”

This contrasts with Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) who an NPR report said threw out all COVID restrictions including those on business as far back as October of 2020. DeSantis’ statements that the pandemic had passed and it was time to reopen the state came just hours after former President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the coronavirus.

“I’ve focused a lot on making sure society continues to function,” DeSantis told a conservative radio talk show host quoted in NPR. “I think you fight a pandemic better from that posture than if society is in the fetal position.”

DeSantis’ order did not apply to Florida school districts, the Tampa Bay Timesreported.

The pandemic in Texas continues to recede.

Eyewitness 13 News in Houston reported zero deaths from the COVID-19 virus on May 17, the lowest seven-day period since March of 2020.

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