For the military, a threat to the United States in the ban on masks


The three school districts at Joint Base San Antonio receive a real-time civic education lesson on state versus federal rights as officials navigate divergent mask rules.

In May, Governor Greg Abbott banned mask warrants in all government entities in Texas, including school districts. But on July 28, the Department of Defense announced the mandatory wearing of the mask indoors at all military installations, which would include school districts.

This created a delicate situation for military bases in Texas, including JBSA, the largest joint military base in the country. Its school districts – Randolph Field Independent School District, Fort Sam Houston ISD, and Lackland ISD – educate over 4,000 military children combined.

Brian Holt, the superintendent of Randolph Field ISD, summed up the situation in a July 31 message to families, saying: “To this day, state, federal and JBSA guidelines do not match.”

ISD officials at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland ISD have said they are conducting legal reviews, but until then will continue to demand masks at their facilities.

The dialogue comes as COVID-19 increases. Hospitals in Bexar County are under stress and all indicators of the pandemic are heading strongly in the wrong direction.

Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston on Wednesday told the Express-News editorial board: “You have to believe in the opening of schools, this is going to happen. ‘accelerate. We have to give our children a chance.

If Hotez had what he wanted, schools would demand COVID vaccines, but he admitted that such warrants were out of sight, especially in Texas. In the meantime, masks are the least we can do in areas of high community transmission.

“Considering the transmissibility of the delta variant, this concerns me a lot, and so the more belts and suspenders we can put on to help our children get through the school year, it can only be a good thing,” he said. he declared. “All we have as a safety net are masks and, yes, we should have all these masked children and all these equally masked teachers – that’s not even sophisticated epidemiology, it’s what ‘we call common sense. “

Burnie Roper, the superintendent of Lackland ISD, said he spoke to parents on both sides of the mask ditch who threatened to remove their students whether or not the district required masks. It shouldn’t be that way. How did we get into such a fractured place?

Besides the health of the children, staff and families in the school district, Roper sees the problem as a military readiness issue.

“We don’t want our kids to be here and some of them to get infected and go home and infect their parents and then the parents are not able to do their mission,” he said.

If you follow the military readiness argument, it quickly spreads to off-base school districts in Texas.

Thousands of military family members work and attend schools off base, and with the Abbott mask ban, the risk of exposure is significantly higher.

So if keeping children safe isn’t enough of a motivation to repeal the ban on mask warrants in Texas, perhaps maintaining national security should be. We cannot afford for military training pipelines and combat units in Texas to be depleted by COVID.

Abbott has said he supports the military, but by endangering the children of the military he endangers their loved ones and this, in turn, jeopardizes the mission.

The JBSA and Texas military bases will surely follow the Department of Defense masking guidelines, and that is the correct answer. Unfortunately, public schools do not have this option, and it affects us all.

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