UPDATE: SISD’s board voted unanimously Tuesday night to follow the El Paso Health Authority’s mask mandate for schools, as well as take legal action against Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott over his ban on local school districts being able to implement such mask-wearing requirements.
The vote came after Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza made a presentation to the board about the current Covid-19 spread situation in the community.
SISD became the second El Paso are school district Tuesday night to approve a mask rule and vote to sue Abbott; EPISD’s board took similar action a short time before SISD’s vote.
ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas — The Socorro Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, at its meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, was set to consider implementation of a face mask requirement for students and teachers as well as consider whether to join legal action against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his executive order limiting the ability of local schools to issue Covid-19 face mask mandates.
The SISD meeting comes as the El Paso Independent School District’s board was holding a similar meeting.
The discussions from both school districts were happening 24 hours after El Paso City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza defied the governor and issued a directive set to take effect Wednesday morning requiring that face coverings be worn at all indoor establishments, including schools. That mandate came following a request for it by County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.
The EPISD meeting also comes after El Paso City Council, in a move supporting Ocaranza, voted Monday night to file a lawsuit against Abbott. The city’s legal position is that state law allows the Health Authority to impose emergency health mandates – and the governor can’t override it with an executive order.
Numerous school districts and a handful of counties across the state have defied Abbott’s order that restricted local entities from instituting mask mandates. Multiple lawsuits are currently pending over the issue; in one of those cases, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily upheld Abbott’s order. Meantime, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in a statement Monday night, vowed to defend the governor’s order against additional legal challenges.
Abbott, a staunch mask opponent, was diagnosed Tuesday with a breakthrough case of Covid-19, meaning he tested positive despite having been vaccinated. Abbott testing positive for the virus came after he gave a speech to a gathering of hundreds this week in which there was reportedly little or mask wearing and social distancing.
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