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These Texas school districts will have mask mandates in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott's order

In the Houston area, a few districts, including HISD and Spring ISD, will require masks despite the governor's ban on mask mandates.

HOUSTON — Several school districts across Texas -- including some in the Houston area -- are issuing mask mandates in defiance of Governor Greg Abbott's order banning them.

The state is threatening to sue the districts and Attorney General Ken Paxton told a radio station the legislature might vote to cut their funding. 

Expecting pushback from politicians, the districts insist the health of students and staff is their main priority.

Here's a list of the large districts with mandates as of August 13.

HISD in Houston

HISD, the largest school district in Texas, is the latest to confirm they will require masks for everyone when school starts on August 23. 

In an interview with KHOU 11 earlier this week, Superintendent Millard House said he has the utmost respect for Gov. Greg Abbott, but the health and safety of the community and schools are why there will be a mask mandate in Houston's public schools.

When House was asked if he's afraid of retaliation or ramifications from the implementation of the mandate, he didn't seem concerned.

"You know, we’re in the midst of a pandemic," House said. "I don’t see retaliation as a method that anyone looks to use, quite frankly.”

Spring ISD 

Spring Independent School District, north of Houston, said masks must be worn beginning on August 16 because of the spike in COVID-19 cases.

“I don’t want to focus so much on defying the governor. We are ensuring that our kids are safe. We’re ensuring that our teachers are safe. And we’re ensuring the learning needs for each student is met," Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson said.

Spring ISD will also provide contact tracing itself instead of referring the cases to Harris County Public Health

The district will also send out a survey to see how parents feel about a potential remote learning option for students. 

RELATED: Spring ISD implements mask mandate 'to ensure the safety of our students and our staff'

Aldine ISD 

Dec. 6 update: Aldine ISD announced it will no longer require masks when students and staff return from the holiday break. The mask mandate will officially be lifted on Monday, Jan. 3.

Aldine ISD is mandating that all staff, students, and visitors wear a mask on all of the district's buses and when visiting campuses and administrative buildings. This is effective, Monday, August 16.

Galena Park ISD

Galena Park ISD says masks must be worn by all students and staff while indoors on school property and school buses, effective immediately. 

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Austin ISD

When AISD schools start on Tuesday, Aug. 17, masks will be a must, according to KVUE, our sister station in Austin.

 Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said the decision wasn't easy but is trying to save lives and is prepared for any fallout.

"When you see the science, when you see the data, and then you apply that to your local context," she said. "Austin is my community now, and so when I see and I hear that there are no more ICU beds and I haven't put students into classrooms yet, and I'm going to put students in classrooms with teachers, with staff members, and we know that masking is one of the most effective COVID protocols other than vaccination, and I'm not able to do that, really required me to ask myself: Why are you the superintendent?"

RELATED: Austin ISD superintendent says decision to issue mask mandate was not taken lightly

Dallas ISD 

As cases continue to rise in Dallas County and the health department moved the risk level to red, DISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa issued a mask mandate "temporarily," citing an "urgent crisis."

"I'd rather take that consequence than have the health of students and staff and families on my mind," Hinojosa told WFAA, our sister station in Dallas. "If I need to be held accountable, if I need to pay a fine, I'll do what I need to do."

Dallas ISD says the governor's order "does not limit the district’s rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students."

RELATED: 'We're in an urgent crisis' | Dallas ISD to 'temporarily' require masks at schools and facilities, officials announce

Fort Worth ISD 

Before Fort Worth school superintendent Kent Scribner decided to require masks, he received a letter from healthcare workers who've seen the COVID-19 surge firsthand: Dozens of pediatricians from Cook Children's Medical Center.

They strongly encouraged masking for students and staff, citing guidance from the CDC and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to WFAA reporter Ryan Osborne.

"The rapid increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths locally and throughout the US in recent weeks are alarming and require an appropriate response," the letter said.

San Antonio districts

In San Antonio, the Bexar County Health Authority issued a directive that masks be worn at all public schools after they were granted a temporary restraining order on Abbott's executive order.

KENS 5, our sister station in San Antonio, reports the following school districts will now require masks.

  • San Antonio ISD
  • North East ISD
  • Edgewood ISD
  • Harlandale ISD
  • Alamo Heights ISD

IDEA Public Schools 

Beginning Friday, August 13, IDEA Public Schools will require students, staff and visitors to all K-12 schools in Harris County— vaccinated or unvaccinated — to wear masks indoors. 


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