AUSTIN, Texas – Two incidents at Austin-area schools involving parents, teachers and face masks have prompted school officials to speak out on behalf of the teachers saying “do not fight mask wars in our schools.”
A teacher at an Eanes Independent School District campus was physically assaulted by a parent and had her face mask ripped off Monday as the new school year got underway.
Another teacher was verbally attacked and told to take off her mask because an upset parent couldn’t understand what she was saying, according to EISD superintendent of schools Tom Leonard.
“This type of behavior will not be tolerated in Eanes ISD. Our staff are on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Leonard. “Let’s give them some space and grace. Please, I am asking everyone to be kind.”
EISD is following an order from a Travis County judge that requires masks in schools.
Mask mandates have been a hot button issue for Texas as Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on June 5 that prohibited school districts, among others, from mandating masks. He followed up with another executive order on July 29, which further removed local governments’ abilities to enact policies like requiring people to wear masks.
Local governments, like Travis and Bexar counties, responded with temporary restraining orders that allowed districts to decide if they were going to mandate mask-wearing.
“Eanes ISD is following the current Travis County Order, which is in effect and will remain so unless a higher court overturns the recent decision of the 345th Travis County Judicial District Court. The trustees and I take an oath to abide by the laws of Texas. We will follow the law,” said Leonard.
He noted that while many people don’t agree on whether mask mandates should be allowed, Leonard said “we all want students to be safe and we all should treat each other respectfully.”
Leonard thanked all the parents who have been supporting educators and also said there have been some “magical moments,” in addition to the sad ones, as children return to area schools.
The EISD website says face coverings are required but the note from Leonard states that school officials can’t apply consequences for non-compliance.
“If adults choose to disagree and fight among themselves, as my mother often advised my brother and me when we fought, please take it outside, off our campuses and out of our schools,” Leonard said. “The children are watching and learning how we behave, so let’s make the time our students spend in school a joyful and positive experience.”