Simmering tensions over mask rules in a Texas school district culminated Tuesday in a parent ripping off a teacher's face covering, an echo of a similar incident in California. "A parent physically assaulted a teacher by ripping a mask off her face," Tom Leonard, superintendent of the Eanes school district in Austin, said in a Tuesday statement, per the Austin American-Statesman. He said parents also yelled at a teacher, telling her to remove her mask because they couldn't understand her with it on. The incidents occurred at a "meet the teacher" event, per CBS Austin. The district initially said it would encourage but not require masks for the school year, beginning Wednesday, in compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order banning mask mandates. But it was forced to reverse course after a judge upheld a Travis County order requiring masks in schools.
"Our hospitals are full at the moment, our medical personnel are under extreme pressure. We are doing our part to help," Leonard said in his statement, per NBC News. He noted masks will be required except in certain situations, like when people are outdoors or eating indoors. But he also noted "we have no legal methods to enforce the wearing of masks" and "must rely on the individual student or staff member's cooperation." Though no charges were filed in the incidents, the superintendent says such behavior "will not be tolerated" at the school district. "Our staff are on the front lines of this pandemic," read the statement. "Please, I am asking everyone to be kind. ... Do not fight mask wars in our schools." (Read more face masks stories.)