DALLAS - All students and staff wore masks on Tuesday at Dallas ISD campuses. The district's requiring them in open defiance of the governor's order banning such mandates.
Dallas ISD and Austin ISDs now have mask mandates. Houston ISD will decide on Thursday.
And there are court battles across the state trying to stop the governor's ban on mask mandates.
While Dallas ISD has made the call to require masks, other school districts are still weighing their options, looking to see what developments come from the governor’s office and health officials.
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Norma Mendoza’s kids were among several wearing their masks on the first day of school for Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.
"My kids have chosen to wear their masks. They all have them," she said. "So they’ll be wearing them all year as the school recommends it."
Masks are not required at this point in CFBISD but highly recommended.
The district is also offering desk shields at a parent’s request, but it is still weighing its options when it comes to offering virtual school.
"This is always very fluid as long as we're in a pandemic," said Dawn Parnell with the school. "And so last year, things changed very rapidly. Sometimes, not only day to day but from hour to hour."
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But it’s not enough for parent Anna Vargas, who is concerned about her two kids under 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet. She made her opinion known by toting signs around campus pleading the district for a mask mandate.
"Please, please send your kids with masks," she urged. "This is not a joke. People are dying."
At Dallas ISD, it was the first full day with the new mask mandate. And for the most part, parents were on board.
"We don't really know what this COVID virus is doing," said parent Jason Shepherd. "It's best to protect our children at all costs."
Governor Greg Abbott’s office issued a statement Tuesday in response to multiple school districts choosing to require masks, warning about violating his executive orders.
"Now is the time for personal responsibility," he said. "Parents and guardians have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask or not, just as with any other decision in their child’s life."
At a critical time when more students are returning to the classroom, UT Health Infectious Diseases Pediatrician Dr. Michael Chang says they’re seeing a noticeable difference in how the delta variant is now impacting children.
"In the last few weeks, we've had times where the percent of children hospitalized with COVID has been as high as 20%," he said. "Kids are now being infected seemingly as easily as everyone else in the population, whereas we didn't necessarily think that before."
According to the latest data from the DFW Hospital Council, inpatient pediatric bed capacity is currently at almost 94% with only two pediatric ICU beds available in the North Texas region.
There are over 150 pediatric patients in our area on ventilators.