Message from the Superintendent August 31, 2021
Dear CISD Family,
Yesterday, the CISD Board of Trustees voted to approve a temporary mask requirement for the district starting Thursday, September 2, through the end of the school day Monday, September 27. I understand for many of you, this back and forth about the legal issues surrounding mask mandates in our district has been frustrating at best and infuriating at worst.
I want to share some context as to why a mask mandate was ultimately a decision that was made by our Board of Trustees. First, we support our Board of Trustees as the governing body of our district and will do our part to ensure this mask requirement is followed. I also want to assure you all that we have been working closely with our legal counsel to monitor the various court cases at the local, district and state level, including at the State Supreme Court. In addition to the very public legal battle between Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Governor Greg Abbott, there are additional lawsuits being filed by families against school districts in Texas both in favor of and against mask mandates. These lawsuits may not be getting the same media attention as the more public ones. There were also letters shared directly with school districts from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton concerning mask mandate expectations, in addition to changing guidance from the Texas Education Agency. All of this to say that there hasn’t been a clear direction about which orders school districts in Dallas County were to follow. In fact, of the 13 school districts in Dallas County, about half were following Judge Jenkins' order and the other half were following the Governor’s order.
Ultimately, based on the advice of our legal counsel due to these multiple legal issues and lawsuits, it was decided that the decision regarding a mask requirement best lay in the hands of the locally elected CISD Board of Trustees.
While I wish this was the end of these discussions and that the legal issues were more clear, I believe we are still in the beginning of this ongoing legal battle. We do expect it will ultimately be decided by the courts at the highest levels, including the state supreme court or even federal courts. Through September 27, CISD is requiring masks based on last night’s vote by our School Board. If this does change based on legal or legislative action, we will let our community know.
I think it is unfortunate that our school district, especially our teachers and children, has been caught in the middle of what has become a political battle. Our children shouldn’t be pawns in this legal issue and decisions about health and safety should override any political stances. Schools are a place for children of all backgrounds and circumstances to come together in a safe place to receive a quality education. The major purpose of public education is to serve and educate our kids.
The CISD Board of Trustees temporary mask requirement, from September 2 through September 27, will also allow for parents to opt-out through a mask exemption for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Additionally, school and district staff can determine exemptions that are administrative in nature. These might include masks not being required during vigorous physical activity like PE indoors, or during specific special education classes or services like speech therapy. A Mask Exemption Form will be available on the CISD website at www.coppellisd.com/COVID-19protocols.
We have received thousands of emails on this topic and heard from many parents at our recent board meetings. We hear and take all of these messages to heart. I chose a career in education because I care about kids. I have spent almost the entirety of my career in Coppell ISD and choose to be here because of the power of our incredible district community. This community is a special place, and together, I know we can get through anything. While the last few weeks have been hard on us all, and there are still challenges ahead, I ask that we as a CISD family choose to be kind to one another, engage in civil discourse when we disagree and model good behavior for our children.
Thank you for being a part of the CISD family and for your continued support in working with us to take care of our children.
Dr. Brad Hunt