On Wednesday afternoon, Mission Consolidated Independent School District announced it would be joining Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston ISDs in requiring students to wear masks, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates.

Mission CISD is the first school district or government in the Rio Grande Valley to announce a mask mandate. However, the district’s order only mandates that children wear masks while on the school bus. The order does not require masks in buildings, but not for lack of trying:

“While Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order will not permit Mission CISD to mandate masks in schools, the federal order requiring them for public transportation will apply on our school buses.”

The school district is essentially taking the position that Abbott’s executive order allows them the authority to ban masks on school buses, stating separately in a letter to parents that under the governor’s order, the district “cannot mandate masks in our schools.”

Abbott’s executive order makes no distinction between buildings and school buses.

Superintendent Carol G. Perez stated, “We will continue to strongly encourage everyone entering our facilities to wear a mask, and will continue to work with our partners in voicing our concerns about the governor not allowing mask mandates in schools when the use of masks has been proven effective in helping control the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.”

In addition to banning mask mandates, Abbott’s order states that if local officials still tried to force people to wear masks, they would be “subject to a fine up to $1,000.”

In response to Dallas ISD’s mask order, a spokesperson for Abbott stated, “We are all working to protect Texas children and those most vulnerable among us, but violating the Governor’s executive orders – and violating parental rights – is not the way to do it.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also responded, stating, “I will continue to defend against these violations. It is about personal responsibility. Liberty shall not be infringed.”

Mission CISD stated any student boarding a school bus without a mask will be provided with one.