GUADALUPE COUNTY, Texas – The great mask debate between state and local leaders has left many school districts in limbo and the new temporary restraining order issued by Bexar County Civil District Court Judge Antonia Arteaga Tuesday night further muddied the waters for some districts.
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District is one such district where guidelines aren’t as clear-cut but SCUC ISD Superintendent Clark Ealy says the district will not be mandating masks.
Of the 17 campuses in SCUC ISD, 15 are in Guadalupe County while the remaining two, Ray Corbett Junior High and Rose Garden Elementary, are in Bexar County where the mask mandate is in effect.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on July 29 that prohibits governmental entities, like schools, from issuing masks or vaccine mandates, and Texas schools are required to comply with the order.
However, the temporary restraining order issued by the judge allows officials in Bexar County to issue a mask mandate in public schools and other guidance like quarantine protocols.
Bexar County Health Authority issued a health directive shortly after 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 vaccine status.
“In 2020, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton directly addressed situations where school districts were in multiple counties with conflicting health orders,” said Ealy.
The opinion letter from Paxton stated that districts with schools in multiple counties should follow the orders for the county in which the district’s central administration building is located. In SCUC ISD’s case, that building is in Guadalupe County.
With that information in mind, Ealy stated “it is our belief that all SCUC ISD facilities must follow the Governor’s Executive Order prohibiting schools from mandating face coverings.”
That means there will be no mask mandate for students, staff or visitors to any of the district’s 17 campuses, including the two in Bexar County.
The temporary restraining order is only in effect until Monday, Aug. 16, at which time Arteaga will hold a hearing to determine if the injunction will stay in place.
“What we are hearing is that whichever side loses Monday’s injunction hearing will seek to appeal as rapidly as possible through the court of appeals and possibly to the Texas Supreme Court. This could take up to a month to play out,” Ealy said.
“Getting this information less than 48 hours before classes begin is extremely stressful for all of us, parents and staff members alike,” Ealy continued. “All of us in SCUC ISD are working extremely hard to have a safe and healthy start to the school year. Please continue to work with us as we make the best decisions under our changing circumstances.”