SAN ANTONIO – The North East Independent School District’s board of trustees approved a temporary mask mandate during an emergency meeting on Thursday night.
The temporary mask mandate applies to all students, staff and visitors while indoors at NEISD campuses, school buses or facilities, regardless of vaccination status, according to the district. The mandate will go into effect on Monday, though class has already started for the 2021-22 school year.
The district said that trustees voted to implement the requirement “in the interest of student health and safety” as the state experiences a surge in COVID-19 infections, largely fueled by the delta variant.
NEISD joined San Antonio and Northside Independent School Districts in implementing mask mandates of their own while courts decide the legality of such requirements, which are banned under Gov. Greg Abbott’s order.
On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of many districts across the state, and cleared the way for school officials to require people to wear masks in classrooms — for now.
NEISD’s board of trustees heard from more than 100 concerned parents and locals.
“Every child under the age of 12 is not eligible to be vaccinated right now, they’re relying on the mask to protect them,” a concerned parent said during the meeting.
According to the district’s assistant director of health services, one person infected with the delta variant could spread the virus to up to nine people. A presentation showed that although the numbers are early, right now, elementary classrooms are having the majority of cases.
“There are at least six students in one third grade classroom at home right now fighting this virus,” another parent speaking at the meeting said.
Another parent added: “We are not free if parents do not have the ability to make informed decisions concerning our children’s health.”
San Antonio’s Metro Health District last week issued a directive that requires indoor masking at public schools.
Another of the city’s major school districts, 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, the area’s largest school district, also approved a temporary mask mandate this week.