SAN ANTONIO — Wednesday will be the third day of the fall semester for thousands of San Antonio-area students, but the first in which masks will be required of them, their teachers and visitors at their schools.
That's due to a new directive from Metro Health announced Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of a local district court judge who cleared the way for the directive by issuing a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on mask mandates.
Some local districts have responded to the development with the following statements:
"Northside ISD is aware of the temporary restraining order pertaining to facemask mandates and continues to closely monitor the changing guidelines and directives. For now, we will continue to strongly encourage the use of facemasks by students, staff, and visitors to district facilities and events. Any change to this stance will be announced prior to the first day of school, Aug. 23."
"Tuesday, August 10, a temporary restraining order was granted in a Bexar County Court against Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in Texas schools.
"Because of this, the Bexar County Health Authority has issued a health directive pursuant to the Texas Health & Safety Code imposing requirements on all public schools offering instruction to students in any grades from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, effective immediately:
"Universal Indoor masking. Schools shall follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for universal indoor masking and require all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers and visitors to pre-K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a face mask indoors.
"Effective immediately, North East ISD will comply with this health directive and masks will be required indoors at all schools and District facilities throughout the duration of this temporary restraining order.
"As this situation continues its process throughout the court system, NEISD will keep our community updated. The District will provide masks to students and staff if needed. We hope that you will work with us in every effort to keep our schools open and safe."
"On August 10, 2021, due to the threat of the widely circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, the Local Health Authority for Bexar County and the City of San Antonio issued a Health Directive mandating the use of face-covering/masks in all Bexar County public schools from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, effective immediately.
"The Edgewood Independent School District supports the newly administered Health Directive and will abide by the directive for its duration. Effective Wednesday, August 11, 2021, all students, staff, and district visitors will be required to wear face-coverings/masks while in all district buildings.
"Edgewood I.S.D. is committed to the safety and security of all students, employees, and community members and will take every available measure to ensure appropriate precautions are put into place in our schools. The District appreciates the understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders as we endeavor to keep our students and staff safe."
"Earlier today, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County were granted the authority to issue a mask mandate by the courts, which now requires local school districts to follow the local mandate instead of the state’s executive order.
"Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 11, all SAISD students and staff members are required to wear a mask while at school and work in compliance with the city and county. We stand by our local leaders who continue to prioritize the safety of our community based on the expertise of health professionals and the CDC."
IDEA Public Schools
"Beginning Wednesday, August 11, 2021, IDEA Public Schools will comply with the Bexar County Health Authority universal indoor mask order issued on August 10.
"Students, staff and visitors to all K-12 schools in the county— vaccinated or unvaccinated — will be required to wear masks indoors, in accordance with federal health guidance to help slow the transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, IDEA will continue its practice of contact-tracing when there are positive COVID-19 cases and will support students’ learning if they must quarantine at home.
'We continue to prioritize student learning and everyone’s health and safety in our buildings. Bexar County’s public health directive supports area schools in delivering on that promise,' said Al Lopez, Acting CEO of IDEA Public Schools. 'We still strongly encourage every eligible person who has yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible as it is the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.'"
Harlandale ISD (Superintendent Gerardo Soto)
"Harlandale ISD will abide by the San Antonio Bexar County Health Authority by temporarily requiring all students, staff and visitors to wear face masks inside our schools, district offices and buildings regardless of their vaccination status. I believe that the community and our board of trustees are supporting of our decision to follow this order because our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff.
"We want our students, staff and families to feel safe as we begin our new school year, and this is a positive step towards achieving that goal. We will continue to follow all guidelines to ensure the safety of our Harlandale ISD community."
ALAMO HEIGHTS ISD
An Alamo Heights spokesperson told KENS 5 that this statement below was sent out to parents and students Tuesday evening:
"Today, a Bexar County District Court judge granted San Antonio and the Bexar County Health Authority a temporary restraining order against the Governor’s executive order prohibiting local authorities from mandating masks. The new health directive issued by the Bexar County Health Authority requires the wearing of masks indoors in all public schools and also requires quarantine if an unvaccinated student is determined to be in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.
The new mask requirement is effective immediately, which means that all school district employees, students, and visitors to campus in Bexar county are required to wear masks indoors on school property until we hear otherwise. If your child is participating in on-campus activities this week, this directive is in effect now.
The court case is set for further hearing on Monday, August 16, 2021. We recognize that this order will require us to begin school requiring masks indoors, and it is subject to the pending legal process. We will notify parents and staff about updates regarding these orders when new information is available.
We continue to ask for your cooperation and support as we navigate this evolving information and the new requirements for Bexar County public schools."
KENS 5 also spoke to Boerne ISD as to what students can expect this school year: