Over 1,000 Quarantining in Texas School District Fighting Gov. Greg Abbott on Masks

More than 1,000 students and staff in a Texas school district are currently isolating after either testing positive for COVID or being exposed to a faculty member or child who has amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in the state.

The Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD) in Texas told Fox 4 on Friday that 908 students in the area are currently in quarantine, while 185 staff members were also being forced to isolate.

Despite the high number of children quarantining in the state after just the first week of students returning after a summer break, all of the schools in the district remain open, just like they did during the entirety of the last academic year.

Fort Worth ISD told the local outlet that of the more than 1,000 people isolating, only around 300 children and 100 staff members are suffering from active cases of COVID, while the others have been sent home after being exposed to them.

On Friday, the school district announced that a temporary virtual learning option for children with a documented medical condition will be launched on September 13 if approved by the members of its board at a meeting on Monday.

The district strongly encourages students and staff to wear face masks indoors on campus but is unable to make their use compulsory due to Governor Greg Abbott issuing an executive order banning mask mandates in the state.

Various school districts across the state have argued against Abbott's ban, citing statistics that show children are increasingly impacted by the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID.

Late July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its face mask recommendation to advise teachers, students and other staff members to wear face masks in schools, a turnaround from its advice earlier in the month.

The CDC argued that face masks will need to be worn by those in schools as the Delta variant spreads because children under the age of 12 aren't yet eligible to get a vaccine.

NBC DFW reported that Forth Worth ISD voted last week to join a lawsuit started in South Texas that is challenging Abbott's ban of face mask mandates, with Superintendent Kent Scribner saying: "I think what we have to do is recognize this is a global pandemic, this is a public health crisis that we cannot allow to be a generational educational crisis.

"So we really have to make decisions, de-personalize it, because it's not about any one of us individually. It's a community decision that ultimately we have to arrive at."

Texas has been one of several states badly affected by the spread of the Delta variant in recent weeks, and its most recent data from Wednesday shows that it recorded 20,058 new COVID cases, with a seven-day average of 13,457.

The state also saw 174 deaths on Wednesday, with a seven-day average of 100 fatalities, while 12,402 were hospitalized with COVID.

Abbott was one of the more than 20,000 Texas residents to test positive for COVID on Tuesday, after he attended a packed GOP event with around 600 people in attendance, with photos he posted to Twitter showing only a few people wearing a mask.

Before his positive test, Abbott defended the executive order banning mask mandates in the state in a tweet on Sunday, explaining that "the ban doesn't prohibit using masks. Anyone who wants to wear a mask can do so, including in schools."

Newsweek has contacted Fort Worth ISD for comment.

Face mask loophole in Texas
Pupils, wearing face masks, learn during a summer project at the primary school 'Sonnenschule' in Beckum, western Germany, on July 6, 2021. A school district in Texas has found a loophole in Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order preventing mask mandates in the state, amid rising COVID cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images