SAN ANTONIO – Students and staff in the San Antonio Independent School District will be required to wear masks, effective immediately. In addition, staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Both mandates were issued Monday by Superintendent Pedro Martinez.
In a letter to parents, Martinez said the mask mandate was issued “to enforce stability in our classrooms, minimize disruption to your child’s academics, and lessen hardship on families whose children are affected by quarantines for up to 14 days, or worse, illness. Absences due to COVID-19 can lead to a significant loss in days of instruction, and face coverings eliminate the need for quarantine after close contact exposure.”
Martinez said the district has led the way in battling the COVID-19 pandemic since it started, by following safety protocols that included masking, testing and access to vaccinations.
He said even though the district’s positivity rate is about 2%, the same can’t be said about Bexar County, which has surged to 20%.
“The time is now to rise to the occasion again as leaders. As a result, San Antonio ISD is issuing a mask mandate, effective immediately,” the letter said.
Martinez said the district plans to test students on a weekly basis and urged parents of students who are eligible to be vaccinated to do so. Vaccination clinics may also be set up in schools with parental permission.
As for the vaccine mandate for staff, Martinez said that according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers can make vaccinations against COVID-19 mandatory for employees. Exemptions are allowed for a qualifying disability or religious reasons. Currently, about 90% of SAISD staff is vaccinated. Martinez said vaccinations clinics will provide opportunities for those not yet vaccinated. The mandate may be among the first in Texas among school districts.
SAISD spokeswoman Laura Short said the district decided to implement its own mask mandate “separate from what is happening in our city, county, and state, in order to resolve any confusion about expectations in our schools and offices.”
Bexar County’s mask mandate for public schools was allowed to remain in effect Monday in a back-and-forth court battle between the county and Gov. Greg Abbott.
Just one day after the Texas Supreme Court lifted a temporary restraining order that allowed for Bexar County’s mask mandate last week, 57th Civil District Court Judge Toni Arteaga ruled in favor of the county again.
The mandates are the latest acts of defiance against Abbott’s executive orders that prohibit government agencies and school districts from issuing such orders.
You can read the letter Martinez sent to parents about the mask mandate below: