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Texas Supreme Court Sides With Gov. Abbott, Temporarily Upholds Mask Mandate Ban

The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked local mask mandates, siding with Gov. Greg Abbott after rulings last week upheld mask mandates in Dallas and San Antonio.

The decision Sunday comes after Abbott reinforced legislation in July barring government entities in the state, including school districts, from instituting mask requirements. But as coronavirus cases began to rise in the Lone Star State amid the delta variant, some school districts pushed back.

Officials in Dallas County and Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, were granted temporary restraining orders against the governor's ban last week, citing the districts' ability to establish safety orders, which were upheld after a challenge from the governor. In Harris County, home to Houston, a state district judge gave temporary permission to implement safety measures such as mask mandates.

Dallas Independent School District, the largest in the state, defied the governor's orders on Aug. 9, requiring masks be worn by all students and staff in schools, regardless of vaccination status. The mask mandate will stand in schools throughout the district at this time, Dallas schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa told local television station CBS DFW.

"Governor Abbott's order does not limit the district's rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students," a statement from Dallas Independent School District prior to the court ruling says. "Dallas ISD remains committed to the safety of our students and staff.”

The decision awaits a final ruling by the state Supreme Court, remaining temporary until then. Hearings for the San Antonio and Dallas school districts will proceed as scheduled. Abbott in a tweet reminded the public that "the ban doesn't prohibit using masks.”

"Anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools," he said.