Dallas County

Here's What You Need to Know About the Dallas County Mask Mandate

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an emergency order for mask requirements Wednesday. Here's what you need to know about the emergency order

Dallas County businesses have three days to institute new masking and safety policies or risk fines after Judge Clay Jenkins signed a emergency order Wednesday.

All K-12 public schools, child care centers and commercial entities in Dallas County must require masks, according to an emergency order issued by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Wednesday.

Jenkins issued the order after securing a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban.

On Thursday, Jenkins added public colleges and universities to his order as well in an update.

Here's a quick list of things to know about the mask mandate and emergency order, and a longer list below if you still have more questions:

  • All teachers, staff, students and visitors at any K-12 public school, child care center or "public institution of higher education" must wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Children under two years old are exempt. Schools and child care centers must create a health and safety policy that includes the universal indoor masking.
  • "Any commercial entity providing goods or services directly to the public" must create a health and safety policy that includes required mask wearing indoors. A sign stating the policy must be visible to anyone in the business or other commercial entity. Any commercial entity that does not follow the order within three days could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
  • All employees, contractors and visitors in a Dallas County building must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. The order does not apply to city-owned buildings.

What is a commercial entity?

The emergency order requires "any commercial entity providing goods or services directly to the public" to create a health and safety policy that includes universal indoor masking.

But what exactly is a commercial entity? According to the Dallas Morning News, Jenkins said the order includes retail stores, bars and restaurants, but also many offices and other businesses.

In an update on Thursday, the emergency order now says any business or Dallas County employees are exempt from the mask requirement if they are alone in their office.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff spoke to local Dallas businesses about the new order Wednesday that are preparing for the new mask mandate.

Which school districts are affected?

Dallas ISD required masks on Monday before Jenkins' emergency order this Wednesday.

But other Dallas County school districts that had originally said masks are optional or "strongly encouraged" are now required to require masks by the emergency order.

Here's a list of Dallas County school districts that have announced a change to their mask policy to require masks since Jenkins' order on Wednesday:

  • Cedar Hill ISD
  • Dallas ISD
  • DeSoto ISD
  • Duncanville ISD
  • Garland ISD
  • Grand Prairie ISD
  • Irving ISD
  • Lancaster ISD
  • Richardson ISD

And here's a list of the Dallas County school districts that have yet to announce a change to their mask policy since Jenkins' order on Wednesday, as well as their previous mask policy before the order:

  • Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, encouraged
  • Coppell ISD, optional
  • Highland Park ISD, recommended
  • Mesquite ISD, recommended
  • Sunnyvale ISD

Garland ISD superintendent Ricardo Lopez said the district has decided to "intervene" in the lawsuit between Jenkins and Abbott over mask mandates in a letter sent to Garland ISD families and staff Wednesday.

Fort Worth ISD also required masks on Tuesday. You can find a list of how each North Texas district is dealing with COVID-19 here.

How long will the mask mandate last?

The emergency order does not officially have an end date.

The temporary restraining order granted by 116th Civil District Court Judge Tonya Parker expires Aug. 24, however. The Dallas County district judge ruled Abbott's executive order banning mask mandates is not a "necessary action to combat the pandemic."

Abbott responded to Jenkins' order and similar defiance of his mask mandate ban on Wednesday, saying "any school district, public university, or local government official that decides to defy the order will be taken to court."

His executive order, GA-38, has the force and effect of state law and supersedes local rules and regulations.

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