District Court Judge Sides with Jenkins over Abbott, Mask Mandate in Effect in Dallas County

Photo via fox4news.com

The ongoing battle over the legality of mask mandates was in court on Tuesday. District Court Judge Tonya Parker ruled to uphold the injunction issued by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, overturning an executive order by Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott’s order, issued in July before the spike in delta variant-driven cases, prevents any agency receiving money from the state from issuing orders requiring masks to be worn indoors.  

Jenkins, citing guidance by the CDC and many health professionals, holds that the governor does not have authority to issue the order and that his office is unable to enforce the ban on mask mandates. Dallas County is at the center of the rising tide of Covid-19 cases that has already erased gains made since vaccines became available earlier in 2021.  

Dallas County Independent School District campuses reopen this week with mask mandates in place. The Texas Education Agency has informed school districts that enforcement of the governor’s order will not be done, though campuses are under threat of a $1,000 fine. 

“Dallas ISD has a mask mandate for anyone on district property, including the district’s athletics venues. All coaches and student-athletes are required to wear a mask on the sidelines/bench area when not actively competing,” said FWISD Communications Coordinator Todd Lamb in an email. “Spectators must wear a mask when attending games, inside or outside, and practice social distancing, allowing 3-6 feet between parties. There are no capacity limits for the venues at this time. We will continue to sell tickets and our football game program through GoFan, our digital ticketing solution.” 

Nearby Fort Worth ISD will not join other campuses in refusing to comply with the Governor’s order. Tarrant County Judge John Chupp issued a temporary restraining order against FWISD last Friday after Superintendent Kent Scribner authorized a policy to require masks. Chupp ruled that as an unelected official, Scribner did not have the authority to issue the order without receiving permission from the school board.  

A hearing on the restraining order is scheduled for Thursday in Tarrant County. FWISD has said that it will honor the restraining order but implored parents to talk to their children about the importance of masking up. 

“FWISD strongly recommends that all students, parents, employees, and visitors, please, consider the importance of wearing a face mask while we are still in the midst of the pandemic and COVID cases remain high,” the district wrote in a release. At least four districts intend to ignore the governor’s order. A majority of ISDs in Texas will ignore the governor’s order and require masks on campus.   

Mask use continues to be a flash-point for many people. Most accepted scientific evidence indicates people have between a 9% and 49% chance of contracting Covid-19 by being in close contact with an infected individual while both are wearing masks. Improper wearing of masks, such as sitting the mask below the nose, and reusing disposable masks significantly reduces the effectiveness.  

Current science shows that N95 and KN95 masks like those reserved for healthcare workers are about 90% efficient at preventing an infected person from spreading disease. Dallas County has reported around 1,000 new cases per day since early August after seeing numbers decline to less than 400 cases daily in early July.  

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