Face Masks as Part of Paris ISD Dress Code on Hold After Court's Ruling

A Lamar County district court judge issued a temporary restraining order to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; a temporary injunction hearing is scheduled for Sept. 21

NBC 5 News

A North Texas school district cannot require students to wear face masks as part of its dress code, a Lamar County district judge says.

Judge R. Wesley Tidwell granted a temporary restraining order to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who sued Paris ISD after the board of trustees voted 5-to-1 last month to add face coverings to the district's dress code in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"The Defendants do not have authority to issue or enforce a face mask mandate in light of Governor Abbott's executive order GA-38," Tidwell wrote in the order.

He went on to write the temporary restraining order was required to "prevent the irreparable harm of the continued violation of state law absent injunctive relief."

Lamar County, where Paris is located, had an estimated 854 active cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Coronavirus Cases in Texas

Locations on the map are approximate county locations and are not intended to identify where any infected people live.

Case data was pulled from a variety of sources including county health departments and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Paris ISD's COVID-19 dashboard said the district had 35 active cases -- eight staff members and 27 students.

"The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district," the district said in a statement last month.

Per Abbott's order, school districts cannot require students or staff to wear a mask despite the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School systems must allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so, however.

Paxton has sued six other school districts, including Richardson ISD, that defied the governor's executive order and instituted a face mask policy.

A hearing for the state's application for a temporary injunction in the Paris ISD case is scheduled for Sept. 21 at 9 a.m.

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