Texas school district ignores AG’s threat on mask mandates and COVID cases drop 84%

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A Texas school district approved a face mask mandate, despite a threat of legal action by the state attorney general, and COVID-19 infections dropped “significantly,” officials said.

Chapel Hill Independent School District passed the mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors effective Aug. 31 and cases peaked two days later at 117, according to the district.

Infections have steadily decreased the past three weeks to 19 active cases among students and staff as of Monday. The school district has 3,400 students and nearly 600 employees. It’s located near Tyler in East Texas.

An executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prohibits school districts from enacting mask mandates. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed lawsuits against over a dozen school districts with mask mandates and sent letters to others notifying them they’re out of compliance.

Chapel Hill ISD was among the districts that received a letter from the attorney general’s office.

COVID-19 cases among students at Chapel Hill ISD peaked at 102 on Sept. 2 and decreased to 15 cases on Sept. 21, officials said. Graphic from Chapel Hill ISD.
COVID-19 cases among students at Chapel Hill ISD peaked at 102 on Sept. 2 and decreased to 15 cases on Sept. 21, officials said. Graphic from Chapel Hill ISD.
COVID-19 cases among staff at Chapel Hill ISD peaked at 17 on Sept. 17 and dropped to 4 on Sept. 21. Graphic from Chapel Hill ISD.
COVID-19 cases among staff at Chapel Hill ISD peaked at 17 on Sept. 17 and dropped to 4 on Sept. 21. Graphic from Chapel Hill ISD.

The school district’s medical staff has also recorded a decline in students and staff reporting two or more symptoms of COVID-19, officials said, and the number of coronavirus tests administered by the district has decreased since the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.

School officials credited the mask mandate for drop in cases.

“Thank you to the school board, parents, and students for helping us reduce the spread and exposure of the virus COVID-19 at our campuses,” Chapel Hill ISD Superintendent Lamond Dean said in a news release. “We also ask that everyone do their part by staying home if you are feeling sick.”

Over 100 Texas school districts have mask mandates not in compliance with Abbott’s executive order, according to the attorney general’s office.

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