TX School District Includes Masks in Dress Code to Sidestep Abbott’s Mandate Ban

As news reports have detailed how Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has contracted coronavirus — and after at least four school districts in the state have had to temporarily close due to the spread of the virus being so prevalent — one Texas district has found a workaround for Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, by implementing the requirement to wear facial coverings into its student dress code.

The school board for Paris Independent School District in northeast Texas issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that it believed the ban on masking rules at schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (and its Delta variant) doesn’t preclude them from changing the dress code among students and employees of the district alike.

“The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees,” the school district, which has around 4,000 students, said.

The board members voted 5-1 to change its dress code to read, “For health reasons, masks are required for all employees and students to mitigate flu, cold, pandemic, and any other communicable diseases.” The dress code will be revisited monthly, and if the situation changes in the future, the code can be amended to remove the mask provision upon a majority vote of the board.

The announcement by the Paris Independent School District to require masks as part of its dress code in order to bypass the executive order issued by Abbott against mask mandates came on the same day that his office announced he had contracted COVID-19. Abbott, who is vaccinated, is reportedly asymptomatic and isolating himself from others.

NBC News analyst Vin Gupta, who is also an ICU doctor, noted that Abbott’s actions after getting a positive diagnosis were curious, to say the least. The governor has utilized a treatment plan that uses monoclonal antibodies, which is generally reserved for people who are far more seriously ill from COVID than Abbott currently is.

“Quickly getting access to monoclonal antibody therapy when you’re the fully vaccinated, asymptomatic Governor of Texas shows just how anxious and scared @GregAbbott_TX actually is of a virus that he constantly downplays,” Gupta wrote. “Hope Texans take note.”

Abbott is refusing to budge on his ban on masking mandates for schools though, even going so far as to sue school districts in the state Supreme Court in order to try and force them to comply. But as Abbott goes about turning his state’s public health into a game of strategy, pediatric ICU beds in Texas hospitals are filling up at a rate not seen before.

Last week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, reflecting on a school district’s desire to keep masking rules in place, noted that there were no ICU beds available for children in that county, because of a rise in the number of kids contracting coronavirus.

“In Dallas, we have zero ICU beds left for children,” Jenkins said on Friday. “That means if your child’s in a car wreck, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed, or more likely if they have COVID and need an ICU bed, we don’t have one. Your child will wait for another child to die.”