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AISD still requiring masks in schools, despite court battles in other Texas cities

Austin will continue masking in schools and city facilities despite a Texas Supreme Court ruling that barred that action in Dallas and Bexar counties. (Austin ISD/Facebook)

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.

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."

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.


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