One Texas School District Outsmarted Gov. Abbott – Here’s How
The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has once again made sending our kids to school way more complicated. Along with the normal assortment of school supplies, kids in Louisiana are expected to be equipped with a facemask - and must wear them properly throughout the school day with very few exceptions.
Texas is another story altogether. Back in May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law into the books that would prohibit schools (and any other organization, for that matter) from requiring facemasks for anyone entering the campus. That meant that local schools would not have the authority to make students, faculty, and administrators wear a face covering while in attendance. For parents and school staff that disagreed with the ban, there seemed to be no solution.
That's when someone at the Paris, Texas Independent School District got really crafty. According to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, administrators there found a very clever loophole that would allow them to require facemasks without violating the Governor's order. Officials convened a meeting of the board of trustees to amend the district's school dress code to include a facemask requirement. Technically, they didn't institute a separate mask rule - they rolled one into their existing dress code, which they have every legal right to do.
The school district released their official statement on their website, here's what they had to say:
The Board of Trustees is concerned about the health and safety of its students and employees. The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees. The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district. Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.
Whether or not this slick move will hold up to legal scrutiny may be a moot point, as the Texas Supreme Court refused to uphold Gov. Abbott's ruling that bans mask mandates in the first place! According to this report from Reuters, all Texas schools should be able to set their own requirements very soon.