PARIS, Texas (KIAH) – Paris Independent School District in northeast Texas has found a legal way around the statewide ban on mask mandates. School starts Thursday 8/19 for Paris ISD, which has about 3,900 students going back to class.

To get around the controversial mask or no mask decision each district is now making, Paris ISD has amended its dress code adding masks to the dress code requirements.

“The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district,” the district said in a statement. “Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.”

The Paris-Lamar County Health District this week reported 443 active cases (as of 8/17) of COVID-19 in the county.

This decision comes as mask mandates for districts across the state are debated in several different state courts. At least four districts have already closed their campuses due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The shutdowns happen as more school districts and communities continued to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates and require students and residents to wear face coverings. Abbott, who is vaccinated, announced he tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon.