EDINBURG — School board trustees here approved a resolution requiring masks and voted to sue Gov. Greg Abbott and the state over the ability to make local health decisions at an emergency meeting Thursday.
By doing so, the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District joins a quickly growing list of entities across the state and the Rio Grande Valley that have decided to buck Gov. Greg Abbott’s May executive order outlawing mask mandates in schools.
La Joya Independent School District voted to require masks and sue the governor Wednesday evening.
Sharyland Independent School District discussed doing the same Wednesday afternoon but took no action. Brownsville Independent School District is slated to discuss it at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Hidalgo Independent School District took legal action regarding local health authority Thursday morning.
Other districts and governmental entities across the state have moved to institute mask mandates in defiance of the order as well, particularly entities in large municipalities.
A statement from Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued Wednesday pledges to take legal action against any entity that defies the governor’s May executive order prohibiting mask mandates.
Edinburg’s resolution requires masks for all students, staff and visitors, save those that are exempt from wearing one in writing by a licensed physician.
It requires people on school facilities to abide by Centers for Disease Control guidance on social distancing and directs the district’s police officers to enforce the district’s resolution.
“In these uncertain times, I want to take every precaution available to us,” Edinburg School Board President Mike Farias said. “And I’d rather err on the side of safety than on the side of negligence. I am for mandating masks — temporarily — until the numbers do go down. And it’s very important that we take every opportunity possible and every resource possible to keep our kids safe, at any cost.”
Discussion on the board indicated the district may consider even more drastic pandemic precautions.
Trustee Louie Alamia called for administration to explore options bringing back virtual learning for students at the district, citing concerns over unvaccinated students and people on campus with medical issues.
“Our numbers are increasing rapidly, and aside from the mask mandate, I do believe we need this option to keep our children educated, but overall safe,” he said.
A teacher and a community member who spoke in public comment also called for more stringent pandemic precautions, citing concerns over hospitalization rates and students too young to be vaccinated.
Dan Diaz, a local ER nurse and ambulance company owner, pleaded for the district to consider implementing virtual learning, saying local hospitals are “inundated” with COVID patients.
“The issue is if we do have any increase of COVID, there’s nowhere to put them right now,” he said.