Waco schools, local governments scrambling to comply with Abbott’s masking order | Local Govt. and Politics

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Woodgate math teacher Elaine Canham helps one of her students with a project earlier this semester. Midway ISD plans to make mask wearing optional as of Friday afternoon following Gov. Abbott’s executive order removing the authority of schools to enact mandates.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott essentially said Waco, McLennan County and the Waco Independent School District have no say in who wears masks, and those entities now find themselves scrambling to comply.

Threatening a fine up to $1,000, Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order saying public schools no longer can require masks on their campuses. Cities and counties likewise must refrain from enforcing mask mandates.

WISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon gave families and staff a progress report on Wednesday, sending a letter describing the district’s quandary.

“Our intention had been to continue requiring face masks in all Waco ISD facilities through the end of the 2020-2021 school year,” she wrote. “However, in order to comply with the executive order that Gov. Abbott issued, we will have to drop that requirement before the last day of instruction on June 10.”

WISD, like other school districts statewide, have wiggle room in their timetable to comply with Abbott’s order. But to avoid confusion, and the potential for fines, “face masks will be optional in Waco ISD schools and other facilities starting next Monday, May 24,” Kincannon continued.

Kincannon offered a caveat, saying, “While there are fewer cases of COVID-19 in our community, the virus is still here. We don’t want any students to miss out on end of the year celebrations, because they have been quarantined. At the same time, many students and some adults in our schools have not yet been vaccinated. Students under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated, and some people have conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.

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