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HISD warns of “consequences” for not complying with their mask mandate

Consequences are, well, a natural consequence of non-compliance.

Houston ISD students and employees who refuse to wear masks when the school year begins could face discipline and be forced to temporarily learn online under new guidelines released by the district.

With exceptions and reasonable accommodations made for people with a “documented medical disability,” the district’s updated back-to-school plan, released Friday evening, says that those who refuse to comply with the mask mandate will face consequences.

HISD Superintendent Millard House II implemented a mask requirement on all students, staff and visitors to all campuses and facilities last week, with the support of the board of trustees.

Under the new rules, laid out in the district’s “Ready, Set, Go” plan, if a student is not wearing a mask, one will be provided. Students who refuse to wear masks will be “placed in a separate area” and their parents or guardians contacted. Students who continue to refuse to use face masks will be directed to stay home, marked absent and offered temporary online learning. Kids who refuse to wear face coverings on buses also may have their transportation privileges suspended.

An employee who refuses to wear a mask will be sent home for one day on administrative leave. A second occurrence will result in the employee being sent home and his or her personal time docked. If an employee violates the mandate a third time, he or she will face discipline, be sent home and personal time docked.

[…]

Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said she thinks HISD Superintendent Millard House is making the right move with the new rules.

“I feel that he’s trying to do what is best for staff and students,” she said. “Employers have a right to do what they think is best for their employees.”

However, like all disciplinary actions, the union will defend its members who face consequences for not wearing masks.

“We would defend any member facing any disciplinary action,” she said. “We have an obligation to do that.”

See here for some background; I missed the story where HISD approved the proposal. I agree completely with this approach. Put the burden on the people who refuse to comply. There’s no better way to maximize compliance. We’ll see what the legal situation looks like on Monday, but I fully support this approach.

The alternative looks something like this:

With the official return of students to campuses in Katy ISD slated for Wednesday, Aug. 18, the district reports it currently has 100 reported cases of COVID-19 throughout the district.

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, the hardest-hit campuses are among the biggest in the district including:

Katy High School with six cases, including three staff members and three students.

[…]

While not mandated, the district encourages students and staff to wear face coverings when indoors, particularly for kindergarten through sixth-grade students until a COVID-19 vaccine is approved for students those ages.

Social distancing is encouraged, when possible.

Or this:

A small school district in West Texas has apparently become the first in the state this school year to temporarily shut its doors due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community.

An official of the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District, with fewer than 400 students, announced Monday that it will close as of Tuesday and aims to reopen Aug. 30.

“This decision was made to ensure the safety of our students and staff as well as to make certain that we have appropriate staff available for each campus,” Superintendent Tracy Canter said in the statement.

Two small East Texas school districts — Bloomburg and Waskom — also planned to cancel classes at some schools this week due to the coronavirus, The Dallas Morning News reported.

[…]

The district’s back-to-school plan said masks were not required but were strongly encouraged.

Over the last week, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Pecos County, where Iraan is located, have risen from 9.5% to about 14.5% of hospital capacity, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

This is what “voluntary compliance” will get you. Give me mandatory compliance, if you want better results.

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6 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    This is what “voluntary compliance” will get you. Give me mandatory compliance, if you want better results.

    No evidence exists for this claim. It is not following The Science. Mask mandates have been in place before and “cases” rose.

    The cases were climbing in the community, not the schools, which is where mask mandates were being considered.

    FACT CHECK: False.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    “Employers have a right to do what they think is best for their employees.”

    The case against Methodist for requiring vaccinations was dismissed out of hand because employers have a right to DO ANYTHING to employees, whether it is best for them or risky to them. The only constraint on an employer is that it cannot ask employees to do something illegal. The only remedy to an employee is to resign, or to accept any disciplinary consequence from the employer.

    It is sad to see unions siding with employers, and giving out misinformation. The correct statement from the union should have been “employers have the right to do whatever they want to employees, unless our contract states otherwise.”

  3. policywonqueria says:

    THE KING CAN DO NO WRONG; THE MASTER, RARELY

    Jason, perhaps you should take up your gripe about the “at will” employment doctrine with the Texas Supreme Court. You will likely be as successful as certain uppity Democrats who have just been put in their place.

    This is judicially promulgated labor & employment policy of long standing. So much for our state Supremes disavowing a policymaking role over and over ad infinitum, and feigning that policy debates and resultant decisions are the sole province of the political branches.

    That’s not to say that judicial policymaking is inherently bad. What is appalling, however, is the legal community’s pretense – and the Court’s own – that this isn’t happening when the Court hands down decisions in important and highly contested cases where there are often good lawyers and good legal arguments on both sides.

    “AT WILL” IS NOT “RIGHT TO WORK”  

    The at-will doctrine is not to be confused with the so-called “right to work” which refers to a policy regime where union membership and dues-paying cannot be required as a condition of employment. Right to work is against the collective interest of labor/employees/workforce because compulsory membership is a key mechanism to prevent free-riding and gives an organized group of people who share common interests (here vis-a-vis the employer/s) leverage as a whole, for the benefit of each member of the group. Add to that statutory prohibitions on strikes and even on collective bargaining for certain categories of workers in Texas.  

    And good luck convincing the all-GOP Court that they should change course on an important substantive policy that regulates the relations of masters and servants.
     
    Texas is pro-business rather than pro-people as a matter of basic philosophy.  

    IMMUNITY … THAT OTHER KIND

    As for the suggestion of “personal liability” to complement the call for “personal responsibility”, let it be reiterated that Greg Abbott is Governor, and increasingly the Sovereign. In either capacity, he can and would invoke court-bestowed sovereign, governmental, and official immunity, if sued.

    Being a Republican reincarnation of a King of yester-millennium has its privileges; among them immunity and impunity. The King can do no wrong was the mantra then. Now its “The State” in a more catchallish fashion.

    TERMINATION AT WILL IN A NUTSHELL

    Texas is an at-will employment state. Ritchie v. Rupe, 443 S.W.3d 856, 885 (Tex. 2014). At-will employment allows both employers and employees to “terminate their relationship at any time for any reason unless they contractually agree otherwise.” Hillman v. Nueces County, 579 S.W.3d 354, 358 (Tex. 2019) (citing Ritchie, 443 S.W.3d at 885-86). However, there are exceptions to at-will employment. See Cont’l Coffee Prods. Co. v. Cazarez, 937 S.W.2d 444, 453 (Tex. 1996); see, e.g., Sabine Pilot Serv., Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733, 735 (Tex. 1985) (creating the at-will employment exception prohibiting employers from terminating employees for refusing to commit illegal acts) see also Word v. N. Jones Reg’l Health Sys., No. 05-06-00881-CV, 2007 WL 2421500, at *4 (Tex. App.-Dallas Aug. 28, 2007, no pet.) (mem. op.) (“Statutes protecting workers from retaliatory discharge are exceptions to the common law doctrine of employment at will.”).

    Source: April 8, 2021 COA opinion in 13-20-00125-CV et seq.
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5799968283424561149&hl=en&as_sdt=6,44

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf,

    Let’s talk about personal liability. There are rare, but known side effects of the injections, and if you are one of the few, the unlucky, the liability for your death, or your health being destroyed by them, say due to blood clots or myocarditis, the liability is yours and yours alone. Guess who doesn’t share your and your family’s pain and anguish? Big Pharma. Guess who ELSE doesn’t share liability? The employers that changed the terms of employment and demanded injections or resignations. Personal liability indeed.

  5. Ross says:

    Bill, those side effects are exceedingly rare. The risk of dying from Covid is 100 to 1000 or more times higher than dying from the vaccine. That’s how it works with vaccines, a very small number die from the vaccine while a very large number die from the disease. That’s also why we have a separate system for handling adverse vaccine events that doesn’t involve the regular courts.

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    Jason, perhaps you should take up your gripe about the “at will” employment doctrine with the Texas Supreme Court. You will likely be as successful as certain uppity Democrats who have just been put in their place.

    I agree. However, keep in mind that the teachers mentioned have a union, so their terms and conditions of employment are governed by the union’s contract with the employer, if there is such a contract, that may not allow at will employment. Likewise, one worker could have a contract individually with his employer, and that contract would govern.