HOUSTON - Houston Independent School District Superintendent Millard House tells FOX 26 the district will require masks for students, staff, and visitors for the 2021-2022 school year.
The mask mandate is still set to be brought up to the district board for a vote on Thursday, despite Supt. House telling FOX 26 that the decision is made.
He said a vote would not be necessary for the mandate, but he would still hold it as a show of support.
Since the media briefing, a spokesperson for the district says the mask policy will not take effect until it is approved by the board.
HISD will join a string of school districts who are defying Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order prohibiting local governments and school districts from requiring masks, including Austin ISD, Dallas ISD, and Spring ISD, amid surging COVID-19 cases in the state.
Gov. Abbott's order GA-38 was signed in mid-May when coronavirus cases were on the decline.
But now, as children head back to school, cases are on the rise due to the highly contagious Delta variant that is also affecting younger people.
Nearly 14,000 new confirmed cases were reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services on Tuesday.
TROUBLING TREND: Texas sees most COVID-19 hospitalizations in 6 months
In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines to recommend that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.
The Texas Education Agency's public health guidelines for schools say, per Gov. Abbott’s order, schools cannot require students or staff to wear a mask, but schools must allow those who choose to wear a mask to do so.
Parents in several school districts have also asked school officials to continue virtual learning in their school districts. Houston ISD has said they do not plan to offer virtual learning, according to their 2021-2022 Back to School Plan.