SAN ANTONIO – The largest school district in the San Antonio area said Wednesday they will not be enforcing a mask mandate, “for now,” despite a county-wide requirement issued Tuesday that students and teachers wear masks in public schools.
A Northside Independent School District spokesperson told KSAT that the district will continue to “strongly encourage the use of facemasks by students, staff, and visitors to district facilities and events” but stopped short of requiring them. Meanwhile, they will “closely monitor the changing guidelines and directives” and alert the public of any change to the policy before the district’s start date on Aug. 23, the spokesperson said.
Many other districts in the area have already returned to campus. Several have communicated that they will follow the county’s mask mandate while a few others have decided to not enforce the mandate. It isn’t yet clear if they’ll face penalties.
Bexar County Civil District Court Judge Antonia Arteaga granted a temporary restraining order to Bexar County Tuesday night against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates across the state.
The county and city had asked the court for relief from Abbott’s order to implement a mask mandate in public schools and city- and county-owned facilities.
Shortly after their request was granted, Bexar County Health Authority issued a health directive that states all schools in the county should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidelines, which will require all students, staff, teachers and visitors ages 2 and older to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
However, the temporary restraining order is only in effect until Monday, Aug. 16, when Judge Arteaga will hold another hearing to determine if the injunction will stay in place permanently.
“Northside ISD is aware of the temporary restraining order pertaining to facemask mandates and continues to closely monitor the changing guidelines and directives,” said NISD spokesperson Barry Perez.
KSAT asked NISD if they plan to change their stance on masking after the Aug. 16 hearing due to the district having a later start date on Aug. 23.
Perez only said that “any change to this stance will be announced prior to the first day of school.”
Mask mandates at schools in Texas have become a flashpoint in the coronavirus pandemic as the more contagious and deadlier delta variant has surged cases and hospitalizations back to early pandemic levels, and as students prepare to return to campus.
Major governing bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Antonio’s Metro Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all recently advised people to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccine status.