The San Antonio Independent School District reversed course Tuesday and restored its mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors — less than a week after halting the policy.

The school district, which serves about 45,000 students, paused the mask mandate Dec. 2 following a federal appellate court’s ruling that restored Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools.

The mandate goes back into effect Wednesday. SAISD will reevaluate its decision in late January after the break and after a review of local health metrics.

Interim superintendent Robert Jaklich said in a letter to SAISD families that the district decided to reinstitute the mandate after determining with the school board and its attorney that the federal court’s ruling does not apply to SAISD because it is not a party in that lawsuit.

The advocacy group Disability Rights Texas filed the federal lawsuit in August, arguing that Abbott’s order and the Texas Education Agency’s enforcement of the mask mandate ban place children with disabilities at risk and denied them equal access to public education during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaklich said in the letter that reinstating the mask mandate is “in the best interest of the district” while the district is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and anticipates more positive cases after the winter break.

SAISD issued its original mask mandate in August, along with a staff vaccine mandate that has been challenged in court by Paxton. The district also paused its vaccine mandate after the Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocked the mandate while the 4th Court of Appeals considers the state’s appeal.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.