Lawmakers continue to tussle over the highly politicized debate over mask mandates for children in public schools. On the 23rd of August, parents gathered in the board room at the Plano District Administration building to discuss legislation that would forbid schools to require masking of students. On one side, many people are in favor of mask mandates in school, and on the other side, many parents are strongly in opposition. Frequent debate has been normal since Governor Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in schools.
Numerous school districts have gone against the governor’s orders, mandating all students to wear masks when in school. Lately, the Texas Supreme Court has become involved due to lawsuits over Abbott’s complete ban on mandates. Judges issued opinions against Abbott’s authority on the matter, claiming he had “overstepped his authority under the Texas Disaster Act.”
The back-and-forth has become so intense that many are wishing for a simple compromise between Republican and Democratic officials. Texas State and District 67 Representative Jeff Leach was a crucial powerhouse in the creation of House Bill 141. House Bill 141 originally prohibited all mask mandates in schools, but on Monday Leach revised his bill to allow mandates after little support from others in the Legislature.
The catch, however, lies in the opt-out system that follows the revised Bill 141. The compromise states that any student can skirt the mask mandates for “medical, religious, or philosophical reasons.” The compromise didn’t please everyone, with some worried about the repercussions that the community could face if the Covid numbers were to spike. Many argued that the opt-out system was easily exploitable, and could leave schools unable to cope if the cases increased in surrounding areas.
Both bills presented by Rep. Jeff Leach and Rep. Harold Dutton, the latter in support of mask mandates, have not progressed in the legislature and are still undecided as of Monday night.