This week marks the start of school for many students and teachers around the country. Dallas ISD was no different, starting their school year on Monday, August 16. However, they are met with some controversy.
At a press conference on August 9, Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa made a temporary order for a mask mandate for Dallas ISD students and staff. This is after Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order to disallow masks as mandatory in schools.
Hinojosa stated his lawyers advised him he is complying with the law because the order did not include Dallas ISD, and that it only applied to Dallas County. Some area schools are going around the order by making masks part of their school’s dress code or simply risking the $1,000 fine by making masks mandatory anyway.
Hinojosa says his decision was based on providing the safest environment for students and teachers to learn.
“At this time, we’re going to continue with our mask mandate to keep students safe, to keep parents safe, to keep families safe, and most importantly, our teachers who are on those front lines.”
Vaccinations rates are low in Dallas and throughout the state, with nearly 52 percent of the community vaccinated. Health experts expect a significant increase in COVID cases due to the Delta variant and the highly contagious properties it has.
Schools in Dallas ISD will enforce the mask mandate in a nice but firm manner, Hinojosa said, handling each situation on a case-by-case basis. If repeated attempts to get a student to comply with wearing a mask are ignored, they will separate the student to a room away from the other students.
“I cannot endanger the lives of other students just because someone decides they are not going to comply,” Hinojosa said.
Currently, there is no option for families to have their children learn virtually due to the state not passing a bill for the option. However, Dallas ISD is working on how to provide this to families through their own funding and plans to have something put together by August 24.
Hinojosa says he has every intention of complying if a new order includes Dallas ISD. For now, they will continue with the mask mandate.
“If this court order then applies, then we will comply.”