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El Paso ISD approves mask requirements with opt-out provision


El Paso, Texas - After a split vote, the El Paso Independent School District board on Tuesday directed its new superintendent to implement a mask mandate for students and staff. The policy allows them to opt out if they are against the mandate.

The vote was 4-3, with trustees Leah Hanany, Israel Irrobali, Josh Acevedo and Freddy Khlayel-Avalos voting Yes. Al Velarde, Isabel Hernandez and Daniel Call voted No.

Before the vote, the board was briefed by medical professionals who spoke about the spike of Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, which is also impacting the district.

Trustee Irrobali called it a "middle ground" solution that "gives individuals who are opposed to these concepts and ideas who say 'it's not for me'," an option.

Trustee Call said he was worried about the potential for litigation. For months, multiple school districts have been tangled in court with the State of Texas and Governor Greg Abbott who say only the governor has the authority to issue mask mandates.

"I wish Texas were different and Texas would give us control but they're not (going to do it)," said Trustee Velarde who also voted No. He also expressed concerns about implementing a policy without proper enforcement mechanisms.

The requirement would extend until February 15 and exclude those who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 10 days. Superintendent Diana Sayavedra and her staff will now have to come up with the procedure for parents, students and staff to opt out and roll it out by Tuesday, January 25.

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Brenda De Anda-Swann

Brenda De Anda-Swann is news director at ABC-7.



  1. The Tyranny continues. I hope that west side group sues them again. This Board is taking a huge risk with litigation already in place. TEA needs to take over once again.

        1. Why is the EL Paso Independent school districts budget is increasing but student enrollment is decreasing by 1,500 students a year?

          Also, why are we allowing children from Juarez to attend our schools?

          1. I don’t believe it is increasing. They’re losing millions of dollars per year. I believe the problem is that they still rely on to many “programs” and yet still emply a full central office. Should be one or the other.

  2. Why are we paying school superintendents over $400,000 a year plus benefits?

    Why did the EPISD pay the former superintendent the remaining if his contract even though he resigned?

    1. They made a mistake in paying the last guy but school districts need a Suoerintendent. Being a Superintendent is like being a mayor of a small city. Rumor has it that over the course of the past year without a Superintendent, some higher level employees and many mid level who think they know everything were running around doing whatever they wanted, hara.ssing Principals, teachers etc.

        1. You’re right, they aren’t worth that kind of money. And the kids from. Juarez is a whole different issue. New Mexicobtoo. Kids come from Chaparral and Sunland Park and use El Paso addresses. Not to mention the free lunch program. There are kids “qualifying” for free lunches and their parents are driving Escalades or Tahoes, etc. Government run programs are all failures.

  3. Look at the most recent hospitalizations. Stupid whit idiots. And they still have Ethel stupidity ri place trump signs next to their dying idiots. Lol.

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