Against the wishes of Governor Greg Abbott, Houston, and Dallas Independent School Districts announced plans to continue to enforce a mask mandate this week.
The decision to do so challenges the governor's spring announcement, in which he said that schools are not required to enforce a mask mandate for the 2021-2022 school year. Schools that defied orders were said to not receive state funding.
Many advocacy groups spoke out against Gov. Abbott’s plan, arguing that with surging COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant and children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine, schools should still require masks. Among the most active of these groups is Marked By COVID, a non-profit organization founded in memoriam of loved ones lost due to COVID.
"The anti-mask executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott was a perfect example of neglection of responsibility coupled with advantageous political calculus," said the organization. "COVID-19 and its Delta variant continue to ravage the state and Gov. Abbott decided to strip cities and counties of their power to protect their residents by implementing CDC recommended masking guidelines."
Marked By COVID applauded the decision made by HISD and DISD.
"We stand fully in support of both Dallas and Houston ISD, whose superintendents have committed noble acts of civil disobedience by going against the governor’s order and requiring masks on school property," said the organization.
The organization notes that making a mask requirement in schools is "an addition to the school district’s dress code policy," and that "if schools can enforce their own dress codes, they can enforce mask guidance."
Activists from the advocacy group also spoke out on the matter, sharing their concerns for sending children back to school without a mask mandate in place, and how students, especially those under 12, need to be taught about how to wear a mask properly.
Kaitlyn Urenda Culpepper, Marked By COVID Community Advisory Board Member from Dallas who lost her mother, a school nurse, to COVID says, "If our children can make this common-sense connection, I cannot comprehend why this is controversial in a city that has been so immensely impacted."
Marked By COVID has hopes that other school districts follow suit in the effort to protect students ahead of the upcoming school year.
For more information on Marked By COVID, visit their website.