HUNTSVILLE — Adopting mask mandates has continued to be a highly debated topic amongst Texas public schools.
On Thursday, that debate will be addressed by the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees.
According to the meeting’s agenda, a trustee has requested that the district institute mask rules in violation of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order — a ruling that many school districts in Texas are challenging with rising COVID-19 cases.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Sheppard noted that the district’s administration is not recommending the change, but will continue to encourage staff and students to wear masks while inside the classroom and hallways.
However, he could be overruled with a majority vote of the Board of Trustees.
Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he is suing six school districts that have defied Abbott’s ban on local masking orders. The school districts — Elgin, Galveston, Richardson, Round Rock, Sherman and Spring — have been requiring students, teachers, school employees and visitors to wear face coverings while on their premises, which the attorney general has dubbed “unlawful political maneuvering.”
“If districts choose to spend their money on legal fees, they must do so knowing that my office is ready and willing to litigate these cases,” Paxton said in a statement. “I have full confidence that the courts will side with the law – not acts of political defiance.”
The governor’s executive order bars local government organizations from compelling people to wear masks.
Some 85 school districts and six counties have instituted mask mandates of some kind in defiance of Abbott’s ban — citing the need to protect schoolchildren too young to get the vaccine amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
There are currently over 700 active cases of the virus within Walker County. COVID-19 patients account for nearly half of all admissions at Huntsville Memorial Hospital.
ON THE AGENDA
In other business, trustees are expected to:
• consider approval of an employee COVID-19 leave program, which will grant up to 10 days of additional local paid leave to employees who have quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
• receive a report on the 2021 Spring STAAR results.
• receive updates on the Hornet Return to School Plan.
Thursday's meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Hawkins Administration Building, located at 441 FM 2821 in Huntsville.