Speed Reads

Masking in glory

Texas schools can ignore Abbott's mask mandate ban for now, all-GOP Texas Supreme Court says

Texas school districts can disregard Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) emergency order forbidding any government entity to require masks, at least for now, after the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday declined to overturn a lower court's ruling and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said it will suspend enforcement of Abbott's order during ongoing litigation. 

Among the various legal challenges from Texas cities, counties, and school districts, a disabilities rights group sued in federal court to overrun the ban and President Biden instructed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday to "protect our children" from COVID-19 "using all of his oversight authorities and legal action if appropriate against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local schools officials and educators."

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected state Attorney General Ken Paxton's (R) request to overturn a ruling by state District Judge Jan Soifer that allowed Harris County and eight school districts to mandate masks in public schools and said Abbott can't enforce his ban "against Texas independent school districts. But the Supreme Court, an elected body made up entirely of Republicans, did not rule on the legal merits of the case, instead deciding Paxton's petition "must be presented first to the court of appeals unless there is a compelling reason not to do so."

About 58 school districts and eight counties have instituted mask requirements, either challenging or ignoring Abbott's directive, according to a list kept by Paxton. Some school districts have been creative, The Texas Tribune reports. "In a novel approach, Paris Independent School District made mask-wearing a part of the school dress code for students and employees."