In an appearance on CNN, Hinojosa contended Monday that the order does not include DISD and that he will wait until the Texas Supreme Court specifically rules against the school district’s mask mandate.
“We’re gonna keep the mask mandate in place. As that order was issued, it applied to Dallas County only. School districts were not mentioned in the order. My name was not mentioned in the order, and contrary to what our attorney general tweeted out, a tweet is not an order,” Hinojosa said, referencing a social media post by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
“[Paxton] said that it applied to us, but it does not. We’ve had teams of attorneys looking at this. We need to protect the safety of our students, and so we are going to continue with our mask mandate.”
The Office of the Texas Attorney General had tweeted shortly after the ruling, “Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co and Dallas ISD to follow Exec. Order GA-38. Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38. Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands.”
Hinojosa remarked that the district “cannot risk students walking through our building without masks on” due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. The superintendent indicated DISD’s mask mandate will be enforced in a “benevolent, but […] firm” fashion.
“It doesn’t matter what the consequences are, the most important thing is to, as long as we can legally do it. Now once the Supreme Court rules that it applies to Dallas ISD, then I will comply,” Hinojosa said.
The Dallas County lawsuit began when GOP county Commissioner J.J. Koch sued county Judge Clay Jenkins over a commissioners court mask mandate. Jenkins issued an even more restrictive mandate after Judge Tonya Parker ruled in Jenkins’ favor and granted a temporary restraining order against portions of Abbott’s executive order.
This could be a moot point soon as the Texas Supreme Court’s stays are only temporary.
“A hearing on a temporary injunction in the Bexar County case, scheduled Monday, is not affected, nor is a hearing on a temporary injunction in the Dallas County case set August 24,” the court said on its website.
Austin ISD also said after the stays were issued that it would proceed with its mask mandate.
As the United States struggled to evacuate Americans and others from Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday as the Taliban took control of the country, President Biden took the time to personally call Hinojosa and thank him for keeping DISD’s mask mandate in place.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings for many individuals — such as those older than two years who have not been vaccinated against the virus and vaccinated people with weakened immune systems — as one way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."