Paris ISD notified district parents this morning that masks will no longer be required on its campuses, but they are encouraged.
"In response to a recent court order, masks are currently not required but are strongly encouraged for all staff, students & visitors of Paris ISD," the notice stated.
The district's Board of Trustees made masks part of the district's dress code in August days before the school year started as Covid-19 cases in the community were rising. The approved change to the dress code stated: “For health reasons, masks are required for all employees and students to mitigate flu, cold, pandemic, and any other communicable diseases.” Trustee Dr. Bert Strom said the change was not permanent, and the board will revisit it at each monthly board meeting.
The change passed on a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Clifton Fendley dissenting on the basis that putting masks into the dress code was circumventing a mask mandate ban instituted by Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order.
“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. 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,” the district stated in a press release after the meeting.
Trustees heard comments from the community for more than an hour, both in favor of and against mask requirements, prior to making the change.