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Austin ISD parents urge leaders to mandate masks, despite Gov. Greg Abbott's ban

Teachers, parents and students came together to form the group "Safe Schools for All." They are advocating for masks in schools and further COVID safety protocols.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: Austin ISD decided Aug. 9 to require masks for all students, staff and visitors. This goes against an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott.

A group of Austin ISD parents, teachers and students gathered on Monday morning to urge district leaders to mandate masks in schools.

"I just want to say to AISD, to the trustees, that this is not a drill, that our students are in danger,” said Carmella Valdez, an AISD early childhood teacher.

AISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde spoke to CNN on Monday about this danger. She said she wants to mandate masks, but can't. This is due to Gov. Greg Abbott's May executive order that bans mask mandates in schools.

“What if a child dies on my watch? How do I go say to you, ‘I'm really sorry, we did everything we could, but the governor's executive order kept me from,’ like what does that do to a parent?” Elizalde told CNN.

RELATED: LIVE: Austin ISD Board of Trustees calls special meeting Monday

But the people at the "Safe Schools for All" gathering said AISD needs to mandate masks anyway, and they will help the district face whatever consequences the State imposes.

"So, we want our school board to take strong action for us in the face of these threats, and we want the trustees to know that we will support them, if and when any of these consequences come,” said Mike Siegel, an AISD parent and former city attorney, “because this is a matter of life and death for our children, for our school workers and for the broader community.”

RELATED: 'What if a child dies on my watch?' Austin ISD superintendent speaks out against inability to enforce masks

Virtual learning is being offered to kids in grades K-6. But many parents shared that virtual school is not an option for all families.

“All of us are going to be out of work because we're going to have to be forced to choose between our child safety and our family security,” said Mary Helen McNally, an AISD parent of an immunocompromised child. “And that's not something that should be happening in the city."

Parents hope to see changes made before school starts next week.

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