HISD superintendent to propose mask mandate in all schools

Mycah Hatfield Image
Friday, August 6, 2021
HISD superintendent considering proposing mask mandate
HISD's new superintendent is considering defying Gov. Greg Abbott's orders to propose a mask mandate in all schools. But what would that look like? Here's what we know.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The superintendent of the largest public school system in Texas says he will propose a mask mandate in all schools, defying Gov. Greg Abbott's orders.

On Thursday, Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II confirmed to ABC13 that he would bring a mask mandate for consideration before the board. He told ABC13 that he plans on bringing it up at next Thursday's meeting.

"I will propose a mask mandate. This mask mandate will be for our students, staff and visitors at all of our schools, buses and facilities," House said in a video posted to HISD's Twitter account late Thursday night.

Just earlier this week, House took several questions from reporters on COVID-19 protocols where he said he doesn't intend on going against Abbott's ban on mask mandates.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Greg Abbott says he won't impose new mask mandate despite increasing COVID-19 cases

"Has the school district considered [a mask mandate?] Why or why not?" asked a reporter on Wednesday.

"We have not," responded House. "But we do know that masks are important, and masks will be strongly encouraged for all of our schools. It's not something that we've done, in terms of, as you said 'bucking' the governor, but we are strongly encouraging masks for all of our employees and all of our students."

When asked if House would consider taking a penalty for defying the governor's order on masks, he said "it's just not something that we've moved forward to do."

"Our hope is that we'll see as many people move forward to be vaccinated and many people move forward and do the responsible thing and wear masks as well. That's what our hope and expectation is," said House.

He said the district supports parents' input and concerns.

As to what has changed, it's unknown.

But the news comes after the Texas Education Agency released its new guidance on COVID-19 protocols in school. Among its protocols, the TEA said school systems can't require students or staff to wear a mask.

"Other authority to require protective equipment, including masks, in an employment setting is not necessarily affected," said the TEA in its guidance.

Also, if anyone wants to wear a mask, school systems must allow it.

This adds to the city's effort to push vaccinations for children. On Wednesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner presented the launch of the "Super Saturday Vaccination Day" initiative, an effort that starts this weekend to get children who are 12 and older vaccinated before they go back to school.