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Most Harris County school districts won't require masks despite new county-wide mandate

Most Houston-area districts tell us they're following the state's order that bans mandates and waiting on legal wrangling to end before making any changes.

HOUSTON, Texas — While the State of Texas battles with Harris County over mask mandates, most area school districts are following Gov. Greg Abbott's order and making them optional. Here's a list of policies for Houston-area districts as of Friday, Aug. 13.

In defiance of Abbott, Harris County issued a mask mandate Thursday for all schools and childcare facilities, citing the spike in COVID cases just as kids return to class.

So far, only HISD, Spring ISD, Aldine ISD and Galena Park are requiring them.

The Houston ISD board’s decision to support a mask mandate this week followed public pleas from both sides of the debate.

"Last year, I did not want to attend school in-person because it was too hard for me to wear a mask,” said one student during the Thursday evening board meeting.

"Do you put your child in a car seat?" said a doctor who spoke.  "Do you put a seatbelt on your child?”

District officials said they know making everyone happy when it comes to face coverings will never happen.

"There is no right decision," said HISD trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels.  "Somebody’s going to be on the opposite side of whatever decision we make.”

Cy-Fair ISD, the state’s third largest district, is among those reviewing conflicting orders to see which one has precedence while keeping face coverings a personal choice.

RELATED: Are masks required at my kid's school? Here's what each Houston-area school district says

RELATED: These Texas school districts will have mask mandates in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott's order

“We encourage students and staff to get vaccinated if eligible, stay home when sick, practice good hand hygiene and wear masks when indoors,” said CFISD in a statement.

Cy-Fair ISD parent Aly Fitzpatrick, who has an immunity-challenged child, said during a rally that the time for riding the fence is over.

"Choosing not to implement a mask mandate and staying out of the political fray is not an option,” said Fitzpatrick.

In addition to a few ISDs, some charter and private schools in Harris County have also decided to mandate masks, including IDEA public schools.

Outside of Harris County, Galveston ISD said Friday that they require masks this school year despite the state order.