Well Being

Texas school district skirts governor's anti-mask mandate by adding them to the dress code

Texas school district skirts governor's anti-mask mandate by adding them to the dress code
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

People have been debating the merits and madness of school dress codes for years, arguing over how much shoulder, thigh, and collarbone should be visible in the classroom. But now a Texas school district has added a whole new layer to the dress code question—how much face should students be showing in the midst of a viral pandemic?

The Board of Trustees at Paris Independent School District in northeast Texas has decided to add masks to the school district's dress code, a move that circumvents the governor's ban on school mask mandates. Now instead of policing spaghetti straps and skirt lengths, schools can send home kids who are maskless or wear their masks as chin diapers. (Only enforcing masks makes a whole lot more sense for students' safety and well-being than a plunging neckline.)

"The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees' exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district," the district stated in a press release. "Nothing in the Governor's Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority."

According to The Paris News, the decision came after an emergency meeting between board members, school employees, parents, and members of the local medical community. Though some parents objected to requiring masks, there were enough doctors, parents, and staff who wanted masks to be required that the board decided to take action.

The motion was passed 5-1, with the one dissenting board member saying that while he was not against masks, he believed using a loophole to skirt Gov. Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban was against the oath of office of the board members.

The change to the school dress code is not permanent and will be revisited each month.

Even though Governor Abbott has used his state government authority to ban local government from mandating masks in schools, there's apparently nothing he can do about a school district's dress code. Sometimes loopholes are necessary, especially when the health and well-being of everyone in the community is on the line.

No one loves to see kids in masks, but it's a far better option than giving a highly contagious variant free reign in schools. Kudos to the Paris ISD Board of Trustees for finding a way to get around a ban that makes zero logical sense in the middle of a pandemic, especially when the local hospital already ran out of ventilators and kids under 12 don't even have the option of being vaccinated yet.

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