HISD to hold board meeting next week to vote on mask mandate, COVID protocols for upcoming school year

HOUSTON – Houston Independent School District, the largest public school district in Texas, will hold a board meeting next week to discuss a possible mask mandate and COVID-19 protocols, according to the superintendent, Millard House II.

House said the HISD board will meet next Thursday, August 12 to discuss a mask mandate that will require all students and staff to wear a mask while on campus or on a school bus.

If approved, the mandate would go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, which prevents governments and schools from mandating facial coverings. Abbott has previously said that local governments attempting to impose mask mandates could be fined up to $1,000.

Tonight’s announcement comes after the superintendent initially said he would not challenge the governor’s order. But now, House says he’s concerned with the rise of COVID cases and Harris County reverting back to the highest threat on Thursday.

The announcement also comes after TEA issued new guidelines on the COVID-19 safety protocols for the new school year. Among the new guidelines, TEA said school districts are not allowed to mandate masks.

HISD’s school year is set to begin on Aug. 23.

House released the following statement regarding the possible mask mandate:

“The health and safety of our students and staff continue to be our guiding compass in all of our decisions. As a result, during tonight’s agenda review meeting, I announced that I will propose a mask mandate for students, staff, and visitors at all schools, buses, and facilities to be voted on next week by the Board of Education. The rate of COVID-19 cases is rising in our communities and Harris County is now at threat level red. We must remain vigilant and use every tool we have to keep this virus at bay. Therefore, the mask mandate will become effective upon Board approval during next Thursday’s board meeting on August 12.

The mask mandate applies to everyone regardless of whether they are vaccinated. In partnership with health officials, three HISD schools are offering vaccinations this Saturday. If your child is 12 or older, I encourage parents to stop by and get a shot. No appointments are necessary.

• Dogan Elementary School, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

• Deady Middle School, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

• Kashmere High School, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The 2021-2022 school year begins on August 23, and we will continue to monitor the situation and work with health officials for frequent updates, which we will share with you. The safety of all HISD staff and students continues to be our top priority.”

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