DeSoto ISD still has active mask mandate in place for students, teachers, school employees and visitors

Dallas County, Texas – Since the start of August, the number of new Covid-19 cases has been declining on a daily basis nationwide. According to the NY Times Covid-19 tracker, a total of 108,491 cases were added on Friday, August 19, but the 14-day daily average is 95,296, which is a 19% decline.

In Dallas County, there has also been a declining trend in recent weeks. Data shows that on Friday, August 19, the daily average was 420 cases, which is 175 cases lower than a week ago. Local health officials believe that the mid-July peak was actually the summer peak and that no increase in cases is expected, at least not in the near future.

Taking into consideration the fact that the local transmission of the virus is declining, many local residents are asking DeSoto ISD officials why there is still an active mask mandate in place for students, teachers, school employees, and visitors in schools within the district. When students returned to classrooms earlier this week, they were once again notified that everyone should wear a face mask, a pandemic measure that has been in place since the end of the last school year.

DeSoto ISD Superintendent Dr. Usamah Rodgers said that the mask mandate never formally ended and it remains active for the 2022-2023 school year, citing a rising number of new Covid-19 cases in the Dallas County area. However, most recent data shows fewer new cases in the area compared to July.

“Given that Dallas County is currently on an Orange alert, and COVID cases continue to rise, the district’s stance on masks as a protection to our students, staff members, and families is a proactive approach to community wellness,” Rodgers said.

Currently, DeSoto is the only school district in the area that has an active mask mandate in place. That, however, might change in the near future as DeSoto ISD’s board of trustees is planning to re-evaluate the mandate and could give the superintendent the power to relax or enforce pandemic measures as needed.

The first meeting is set to take place on Monday next week, August 22. It’s expected that the board of trustees will recommend dropping the mask mandate. However, the board members are expected to strongly recommend masks and face coverings.

While the mask mandate is in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in schools, DeSoto ISD said it won a lawsuit granting the district the ability to enforce the use of masks.

In July, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the governor and dismissed another lawsuit that claimed the ban violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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