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Appeals court issues hold on order preventing Round Rock ISD from enforcing mask mandate

A Williamson County District Court Judge on Thursday ordered that the district cannot "issue or enforce” a mandate because of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the Round Rock Independent School District was told it had to drop its mask mandate.  

A Williamson County District Court Judge said the school district does not have the authority “to issue or enforce” a mandate because of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order addressing masks in schools.

Executive order GA-38 states no government entity, including school districts, can require or mandate masks.

In a post on Twitter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the order is “another WIN!” Paxton filed a lawsuit against Round Rock ISD and five other school districts last week for defying the executive order.

A day later, on Friday, the Third Court of Appeals issued a hold on that order, meaning that Round Rock ISD can continue with its mask mandate for now.

RELATED: LIST: Local school district mask rules for school year

In a statement to KVUE on Thursday, Round Rock ISD said it was not aware of the order but will follow any “lawfully issued court order”:

“Round Rock ISD has recently learned that a judge in Williamson County signed an order temporarily prohibiting the District from enforcing its mask requirement. Round Rock ISD had not been notified of any request by the Texas Attorney General’s office for such an order and has not been properly served to date. The District and its legal counsel were not afforded the opportunity to be present at any court proceeding to oppose the issuance of this order. 

Round Rock ISD will comply with any lawfully issued court order. We will also use all proper and available legal proceedings to challenge this order and vigorously defend its long-established lawful authority to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for Round Rock ISD students and staff, including during this pandemic. The District continues to strongly encourage and recommend the use of masks in accordance with guidance from our local health authorities.”

A group of Round Rock ISD parents also filed a lawsuit to stop the district’s mask mandate last week. 

Round Rock ISD announced it would temporarily require masks on campuses on Aug. 17. The mandate is set to expire on Friday, Sept. 17.

The Board of Trustees was set to potentially extend the mandate at its meeting on Wednesday, but it was “disrupted by attendees.” The meeting has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, Sept. 22.

In an email to parents, Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said he is recommending mask requirements be associated with Austin-Travis County’s COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. If approved, masks would be required if Austin is in Stage 4 or Stage 5.

RELATED: Austin could move to Stage 4 if COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to slow down

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