As the new school year begins, many parents and Texas districts are battling Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. The City of Austin and Travis County defied Abbott by announcing that they will require the residents in the city and the county to use face masks in buildings and public schools. The other areas that imposed the same mandates are Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
Recently, around 100 members of the Safe Schools for All group met to demand the districts do more to protect the students, teachers, staff, and the community in general. The group included parents, students, and teachers, and they rallied to fight against Abbott’s “dangerous” mask ban in public schools. They called the ban “irresponsible,” mainly because there is a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Texas brought about by the Delta variant.
Many of the group’s supporters said that they are concerned with the cases because their children, who are younger than 12 years old, are not yet eligible for vaccinations.
Further, the United States Department of Education sent a letter to Abbott saying they stand behind the Texas districts defying his mask mandate ban. The ban carries the punishment that those who defy the governor’s orders will have to pay a fine of $1,000 for the mask mandates enforced. It is believed that Abbott and the state of Texas will take the matter to the Texas Supreme Court regarding the defiance of the districts.
As of Friday last week, there are 2,865 active cases in the Austin-Travis County area. Of these cases, 596 are hospitalized, 198 are in the ICU, and 128 are on ventilators. The area is still in Stage 5 based on the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.
Because of the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases in the area, many events have been canceled. Blues on the Green shows had to be postponed. They were supposed to be held this week at Zilker Park, but Austin City Limits Radio decided to cancel them because of the current public health emergency. The shows would be rescheduled for a future date.
The Texas Tribune Festival was supposed to be a physical event but is now a virtual one. Austin Pride also canceled its weekend event, and in a statement said: “The choice was made for us, and for the safety of our city and community, to put a pause on in-person gatherings. We were more excited than you know to celebrate with you all. The reality of being in the thick of this pandemic again is truly heartbreaking.”