Local districts continue face coverings option after federal judge rules that Texas districts can implement mask mandates


FILE – In this May 18, 2021 file photo, fifth graders wearing face masks are seated at proper social distancing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y. As the nation closes out a school year marred by the pandemic, some states are now starting to release new standardized test scores that offer an early glimpse at just how far students have fallen behind — with some states reporting that the turbulent year has reversed years of progress across every academic subject. New York, Georgia and some other states pushed to cancel testing for a second year so schools could focus on classroom learning. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After a federal judge’s ruling earlier this week, local school districts are now able to make the choice on whether or not schools or districts can require the wearing of face coverings for both students and staff within the state of Texas.

According to reports by the Associated Press, the judge ruled that GA-36, an executive order banning local governmental entities, including public schools, from requiring individuals to wear face coverings. The judge stated that this order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The order stated that public schools were allowed to follow their face covering policies through the end of the 2020-21 school year, but beginning June 4, “no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering.” This mandate also included other governmental entities throughout the state.

But even with this change, three school districts in the Amarillo area are maintaining that masks continue to be an option for students, staff members and visitors to campuses.

Officials with the Amarillo Independent School District stated that they had not heard of any changes to the district’s face covering policy. River Road ISD officials stated that individuals will continue to have the choice on whether or not to wear a face-covering at this time.

In a statement given to MyHighPlains.com, officials from Canyon ISD said the following:

“Canyon ISD has monitored the positive cases of COVID-19 within the school district since the beginning of the school year.  Due to the safety precautions put in place, there has been less than 1% of the population affected with COVID-19 each week without students and staff being required to wear masks.  The District does not intend to change its decision to keep masks optional.”

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, more than 1,900 combined COVID-19 cases have been reported from students and staff of the three districts since August. This week, Amarillo ISD reported 68 new cases of COVID-19 among students and 24 among staff and Canyon ISD reported 48 new cases among students and 12 among staff.

This comes after individuals ages 5 to 11 were recently approved to receive a low-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. According to reports by the Associated Press, approximately 900,000 kids received their first dose of the vaccine the first week they were able to. Because of the expanded eligibility, 28 million additional individuals are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), 66.97% of the eligible population throughout the state of Texas have been vaccinated, with 15,652,156 individuals being classified as fully vaccinated. The Texas DSHS is reporting the following vaccination data for Potter and Randall counties:

Potter County

Percentage of population 5+ vaccinated with at least one dose: 51.17%;

Percentage of population 5+ fully vaccinated: 42.99%;

Percentage of population 65+ vaccinated with at least one dose: 85.19%;

Percentage of population 65+ fully vaccinated: 75.28%.

Randall County

Percentage of population 5+ vaccinated with at least one dose: 50.01%;

Percentage of population 5+ fully vaccinated: 43.43%;

Percentage of population 65+ vaccinated with at least one dose: 80.07%;

Percentage of population 65+ fully vaccinated: 73.21%.

For more information about where individuals can receive the COVID-19 vaccine within Potter and Randall counties, visit this link.

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