HOUSTON - A battle over who has authority to put in place mask mandates for school district is now brewing as the largest school district in Texas, Houston ISD, passed an agenda item on Thursday night.
Several other districts have done the same including Spring and Galveston ISDs.
Katy, Fort. Bend, Spring Branch, Cy-Fair, Pearland, Klein, Clear Creek, and Alief are strongly recommending masks to be worn in their facilities.
On Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel A. Cardona penned a letter to Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency to rescind restrictions. In a statement, he writes,
"Texas’ recent actions to block school districts from voluntarily adopting science-based strategies, may infringe upon a school district’s authority to adopt policies to protect students and educators as they develop their safe return to in-person instruction plans required by Federal law."
HISD Superintendent, Millard House, broke down how the mask mandate will work for the 2021-22 school year.
Masks will be required on all school facilities including buses, for all students, staff, and visitors. The new requirement will begin on Aug. 16. But House says, there will be some exceptions for those who have health conditions.
"For individuals who may not be able to wear masks due to health conditions, those medical expectations will be honored based on documentation from a licensed physician," said House.
For students who do not comply, the district has announced they will be sent home and placed on a temporary online learning program.
"Anyone non-compliant with the mask mandate in our district will face disciplinary actions," said House. "They will be counted as absent from the class for the amount of time they remain on temporary online learning."
The district also saying, if your students become sick, they’ll be placed in an isolated area until pickup. Students who do test positive for Covid-19 will be placed in online learning for the following 20 days, and must engage in a minimum of four hours.
The District has also committed to contact tracing and is urging faculty, staff, and students to vaccinate.
HISD is working with health partners to offer Covid-19 vaccinations at pop-up sites, you can find them here.