Masks will be mandatory for everyone on a public school campus on August 15. (Courtesy of Adobe Stock)
Hays County Judge Ruben Beccera issued an executive order Friday evening requiring everyone to wear masks in public schools.
The order, issued Aug. 13 at 10:45 p.m., went into effect Sunday morning and is technically a reinstatement of the local disaster declaration order issued on March 15, 2020.
According to a press release, students, staff and visitors to any public or public charter school campus over two years old will be required to wear a “form of blanket that fits snugly over the nose or mouth, such as than commercially manufactured or homemade fabric mask, scarf or bandana.
“Currently, 70% of 12-15 [years old] age group are not vaccinated and children under 12 are not at all eligible for a vaccine, ”Judge Beccera said. “Masks are their only line of defense.”
The order will be considered effective until it is re-addressed or modified by the department.
At a special August 12 meeting of the Consolidated Independent School District of San Marcos, the board of trustees voted to require masks to be worn in schools under their jurisdiction.
CISD San Marcos has approximately 8,000 students. Hays CISD has over 20,000 and has not yet planned to revisit this issue.
The executive action of the county judge takes precedence over these decisions.
The order effectively joins Hays County in a lawsuit brought by Bexar County, Travis County, City of San Antonio and other municipalities against Executive Order GA-38 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, which bans any government entity to require face coverings.
In a letter written Aug. 14 to the parents of Hays CISD, Superintendent Eric Wright addressed the new Hays County order.
He addressed the legal concerns of back and forth between local governments and the state, and that the district is awaiting advice on the matter. However, he said, despite any move in favor of the governor or for local officials who oppose him, Wright still wants everyone to wear masks on purpose.
“What we should be doing is wearing masks. Wearing a mask does not violate any law or order. It’s the safe thing to do medically and legally, ”Wright said.
“While we await a decision on not to wear a mask that is against the law, we will continue to urge parents to send their children to school with masks, especially at the elementary school level where vaccines are not yet an option. “