Austin Independent School District is holding its ground with mask mandates despite a back-and-forth ruling from courts across the state.
While a Monday court decision in Bexar County ruled local officials can allow face masks in public schools, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Sunday against the same precautions in Dallas and Bexar counties. The Supreme Court ruling was a win for Gov. Greg Abbott, who barred local mask mandates, but it doesn't seem to be a done ordeal.
Nevertheless, AISD will join both Dallas and San Antonio in requiring masking in its schools as the school year starts on Tuesday.
Masks will still be required in all Austin ISD schools and facilities.
Los cubrebocas son obligatorios en todas las escuelas e instalaciones del Austin ISD. https://t.co/yoMUpfZhRE
— Austin ISD (@AustinISD) August 16, 2021
The school district sent a reminder via email to parents after the Sunday Supreme Court ruling, quoting Travis County Judge Andy Brown on the city's decision to keep masks in schools.
"Until we end up in litigation directly with the governor, we're going to keep our requirement that public schools require masks in place," Brown told KUT.
The decision comes in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott, whose executive order in March prohibits local governments from enforcing masking for businesses, schools or government properties. Austin kept its mask rules long after Abbott's order and was subject to a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton later that month.
Paxton responded to the Supreme Court decision and warned other districts with mask mandates, including Austin, to "let this ruling serve as a reminder" that "the Governor's order stands."
Breaking: TX Supreme Court sides with the rule of law. Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co & Dallas ISD to follow Exec. Order GA-38. Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38. Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor's order stands. https://t.co/s7AUVCXlJ1
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) August 15, 2021
In a statement on Sunday, the city of San Antonio responded to the ruling and said that Bexar County's mask mandate, which includes all pre-K-12 public schools and city facilities, will remain in effect.
"The City of San Antonio and Bexar County's response to the Texas Supreme Court continues to emphasize that the Governor cannot use his emergency powers to suspend laws that provide local entities the needed flexibility to act in an emergency. His suspension authority is meant to facilitate action, not prohibit it," San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia said in a statement
In a similar fashion, Dallas ISD announced on Sunday it would also continue mask mandates within schools, though nearby Irving ISD said they would adhere to Abbott's order.
Previously scheduled hearings on mask mandates in both counties will begin as scheduled on Monday.
Austin remains in Stage 5, the highest of its risk-based recommendations, and continues to uphold a mask mandate in schools and city property in defiance of Abbott's orders. Mayor Steve Adler said that the city will continue to enforce masking, especially within Austin schools, until the state reaches a final decision.
This ruling does NOT address or decide whether school mandates are valid, nor does it rule against the local @AustinISD order, mine, the @AusPublicHealth or @TravisCoJudge's. While we await a final decision, we believe local rules are the rules. https://t.co/lNt5etPwby
— Mayor Adler | Get vaccinated! (@MayorAdler) August 15, 2021
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.