TCTA | Texas Supreme Court says school mask mandates can stay, for now
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Texas Supreme Court says school mask mandates can stay, for now

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In its initial ruling on lawsuits challenging Gov. Greg Abbott's executive ban on mask mandates, the Texas Supreme Court said school district mask mandates can stay in place while lawsuits make their way through the lower courts. At least 58 districts in Texas are requiring students and staff to wear masks to slow the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19.

While the legal issues surrounding masking make their way through the state and federal court system, TCTA encourages members to follow the COVID-19 guidelines in their district. Members with questions or concerns about their district's policies should call 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.

School districts must notify parents of positive COVID-19 cases in classrooms

In its latest guidance issued Thursday, the Texas Education Agency is now requiring school districts to notify parents when someone in their child's classroom tests positive for COVID-19. TCTA's COVID-19 FAQs for the 2021-22 school year have been updated accordingly.

Several rural districts in Texas have shut down for a couple of weeks after spikes in positive COVID-19 cases, and many larger districts are working to expand remote learning options for students who need to quarantine.

What happens if I have to quarantine for COVID-19?

In addition to personal days available to employees, there may be other leave options to consider. The requirement that employers provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on Dec. 31, 2020, however the American Rescue Plan Act allows districts to receive payroll tax credit if they voluntarily provide paid sick leave or extended family leave pursuant to the FFCRA until Sept. 30, 2021. TCTA is not aware of school districts using this option.

In addition, a school board could adopt a policy expanding local sick leave for employees who choose to or must remain in isolation. Such a policy could be adopted on an emergency basis to provide a public benefit to the district and to the community. TCTA is encouraged to see a growing number of districts consider or adopt local paid leave policies allowing for additional days. On Thursday night, the Round Rock ISD school board voted to give district employees 10 additional paid leave days if they receive a positive COVID-19 test during the 2021-22 school year. Other districts that have considered or are considering additional paid leave days include Killeen, Houston, Arlington and Katy ISDs.