Northside ISD approves temporary mask mandate ahead of first day of school

Mandate for indoor masking goes into effect on Monday

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SAN ANTONIO – All students, staff and visitors at the Northside Independent School District must wear face coverings when they head back to the classroom on Monday.

The board of trustees on Tuesday night voted unanimously to issue the temporary mask mandate due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in Bexar County.

The mandate will go into effect on the first day of school, and it will apply to those indoors. The district previously said they would “strongly encourage” face coverings amid a volley of court rulings on the legality of mask mandates, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has banned schools and local governments from issuing such requirements.

Last week, Metro Health issued a directive that requires indoor masking at public schools after a Bexar County Civil District Court Judge granted the city and Bexar County’s request for a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive order.

On Sunday, the Texas Supreme Court sided with Abbott and temporarily blocked mask mandates in Dallas and Bexar counties, but allowed injunction hearings to continue in those counties. On Monday, 57th Civil District Court Judge Toni Arteaga ruled in favor of Bexar County, allowing the mandate to stay in place — for now.

The ruling grants a temporary injunction that prevents the enforcement of Abbott’s executive order, meaning Bexar County’s health directive remains in effect.

The city’s other major school district, San Antonio ISD, issued a mask mandate on Monday. In addition, staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against the virus by Oct. 15.

Northside ISD’s vote came hours after San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced 24 children were hospitalized in the last 24 hours due to COVID-19 complications.

Health officials in major metropolitan areas of Texas have pushed for mask mandates in schools, defying Abbott, as many children are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. The mayor continued to push precautions like masks, social distancing, vaccines and other measures.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases slightly decreased from 1,646 on Monday to 1,628 on Tuesday. Officials reported 1,383 active hospitalizations, down from 1,413 reported on Monday.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.