Texas School’s COVID-19 Case: How Those With Mask Warrants Compare To Those Without
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Weekdays for Amy Grant and her 7-year-old daughter don’t consist of the usual drop-off and pick-up routine at school.
That’s because Grant’s daughter is attending school online, a choice their family made due to their district’s policy of not requiring masks, per Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38, which prohibits government entities from requiring face coverings.
“I feel like my daughter has lost a precious education that would not have happened if we had had a mask mandate. I had to hire someone to help me with my 7 year old daughter so that she could attend her online school and I could continue to provide for our family, ”said Grant.
Although the Grant District does not enforce masks, 102 independent school districts across Texas are defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order by requiring his students and staff to wear masks – that’s over 1,200 districts of State
Six of Texas’ 10 largest school districts are among those that currently have mask mandates in place
KXAN previously analyzed the number of COVID-19 cases in 20 central Texas school districts and found that students and staff in central Texas school districts with mask warrants had fewer COVID-19 cases.
KXAN delved into the issue and analyzed COVID-19 cases in the 10 largest school districts in Texas to see if there was a correlation between mask warrants and the number of student and staff cases since August 2021 .
KXAN analysis found that the rate of COVID-19 cases among college students was the most significant difference between districts that currently require masks.
The six districts with mask mandates had an average total student case rate of 1.8%, compared to 3.5% among the four districts without.
While the combined total average of COVID-19 cases in the six districts requiring masks was significantly lower, KXAN found that not all districts requiring masks had the lowest case rate.
The top five districts with the lowest percentage of cases per capita require students and staff to wear masks. However, three districts without a mask warrant (Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Katy ISD and Fort Worth ISD) had a lower case percentage than Northeast ISD, which requires masks.
Overall, Austin ISD had the lowest total COVID-19 case rate among its student body and staff, while Fort Bend ISD had the highest case rate in the 10 largest districts.
Grant says she believes masks should be mandatory in public schools with medical exemptions.
“Research from reputable medical and scientific organizations overwhelmingly supports masking as essential to a layered approach in reducing the transmission of COVID,” she said. “It is a public health problem, not a political problem.”
The ongoing controversy over GA-38 and whether school districts decide to comply or defy the order has led to numerous lawsuits from those who support and oppose the order.
According to GA-38, any local government entity or official who does not comply with the order is liable to a fine of up to $ 1,000.
However, in the two months since GA-38 was released, more than a dozen school districts in Texas are facing much more.
Currently, the Texas attorney general’s office is in litigation or has sued 15 districts across Texas regarding the application of GA-38, including Dallas ISD and two central Texas school districts.
The remaining districts currently defying the order have received letters of non-compliance from the Texas Attorney General, which states: “You will rescind your local policy requiring masks in public schools or, failing that, will not enforce it until then. the decision of the Supreme Court of cases. before it involves that question. Otherwise, you will face legal action taken by my office to enforce the Governor’s Order and protect the rule of law.
In addition to lawsuits brought by the Attorney General’s office, numerous GA-38-related lawsuits have been filed against Governor Abbott, citing the order as “unconstitutional and a threat to public health and safety.”
Austin ISD, the district with the fewest per capita cases in central Texas, is among many parties challenging the legality of GA-38.
Austin ISD explained in a statement that it is “arguing that decrees cannot suspend, modify or revoke laws granting local control to the management of school districts, which is vested in school districts by law. “
A Travis County district court sided with the school districts in late August and called Abbott’s order “illegal.” The case is now before the Texas Third Court of Appeals, a decision due in October. Austin ISD says: “So far, an AISD court has upheld his mask mandate; therefore, we operate fully within the law.
KXAN contacted each of these top 10 school districts and asked them for their official position regarding the GA-38 and the factors they considered in determining whether masks would be needed.
So far, KXAN has received responses from Austin ISD, Northside ISD, and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.
Austin ISD said it made the decision to make masks mandatory because “masks work. We know this because they worked last year and they are working now.
Regarding GA-38, Northside ISD, which also requires masks, said:
“Our board of directors has the power and the obligation to make local decisions regarding the safety of its students and employees and believes that the ability to impose masks will contribute to the ultimate goal of providing in-person instruction of safe and efficient way. We intend to avoid situations, as in other school districts, where a high number of confirmed cases of COVID or high transmission rates have forced schools to close. As such, our Board of Directors has mandated the use of masks for the safety and well-being of Northside ISD students and employees.“
Cypress-Fairbanks has provided KXAN with a link to the Health and Safety Protocols on its website, and such masks are encouraged but not required.