Despite the growing crowd of COVID-vaccinated individuals in Texas, local officials across the state are trying to require all citizens to obey old rules that didn’t work the first time.

On Monday, Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa—head official of the second-largest school district in the state—announced, “Effective tomorrow, I’m issuing an order that everyone on campus will wear a mask.”

The order will “temporarily require all staff, students and visitors to wear masks while on district schools and other facilities.”


Local Officials Contradict the Governor

Hinojosa’s decree comes as more local officials across Texas are again trying to dictate face coverings on citizens. Last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner mandated masks for all city employees on city properties; Houston ISD is expected to announce a similar order later this week; Austin ISD school board is meeting tonight, expectedly about the topic; and Austin Mayor Steve Adler recently said if he could, he would force citizens to get injected with COVID vaccinations.

However, one glaring problem is that all of these proposed and enacted rules contradict Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order, which specifically prohibits local officials across the state from mandating vaccines or masks on citizens.

“No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization. … No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face covering or mandate that another person wear a face covering,” reads Abbott’s July order.

Abbott’s order states that if local officials still tried to extort citizens into vaccines or masks, they would be “subject to a fine up to $1,000.”

Additionally, some parents have questioned the mask mandates by pointing to the Texas Education Code, which prohibits impairing a student’s breathing or requiring they wear a face covering as a punishment.

“Dallas ISD [is] reimposing a mask mandate against state law,” one citizen tweeted. “If a parent refuses to comply with the mask mandate, the district is setting itself up for a massive lawsuit with no upside. You can’t exclude kids from school when you are in violation of the law.”

The state Legislature has, so far, declined to take specific action against the school mask mandates, but Republican State Rep. Jeff Cason (of Bedford) has proposed a law in the current special legislative session to protect school children from such orders.


Health Experts Warn Against Masks

The resurrected mask mandates come after Gov. Abbott dropped the statewide requirement in early March, which some feared would spark an outbreak of the virus. However, in the subsequent weeks and months, coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths plummeted, and new cases dropped to record lows.

On top of that, the Center for Disease Control released a study in May 2020 that systemically reviewed data regarding face masks and the spread of the flu, a virus that “has similar size to [the coronavirus].” The study “found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

“There’s no scientific rationale or logic to have children wear masks in schools,” said Stanford University’s Dr. Scott Atlas, who described the mask mandate evidence from numerous counties, states, and countries.

“There’s no evidence that a mask mandate was effective in stopping the cases from spreading. … And, in fact, there is evidence, as [a colleague doctor] cited, that the people in the United States at a very high frequency have been wearing masks for months and the cases exploded,” said Dr. Atlas at a roundtable discussion last year. “Whether it’s in certain states like Hawaii, Minnesota … you could look at all the data. So this has sort of become folklore—one of the many obsessions—and it’s been harmful.”

“Children should not wear face masks, no. They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people, either,” said Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford, added that forcing masks on children is “developmentally inappropriate” and that it “just doesn’t help on the disease spread.”

What Now?

Gov. Abbott has yet to publicly comment on the local officials’ actions. Texas Scorecard reached out to the governor’s office for comment, but he did not respond as of publication time. Concerned citizens may contact their elected officials.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.