The Texas public school systems will no longer follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced Thursday.
In a public health guidance letter issued by the TEA, the agency said it is suspending the enforcement of the mask ban because of the ongoing litigations related to it.
The TEA also said that public school systems must consult with the local public health officials along with legal counsels before making decisions. It also urged districts to inform the teachers, staff members, and families when someone tests positive for COVID-19, Politico reported.
The TEA guidance was issued following news of multiple mask wars, increased COVID-positive tests in school, and multiple court challenges mounted by parents, advocates for disabled children, and local governments and school boards.
A total of seven counties and 48 school districts have already re-implemented mask mandates despite Abbott’s ban.
A state district court judge also granted Harris County and several South Texas school districts restraining orders on Abbott’s mask ban. Another state district judge issued an order Thursday, allowing Fort Bend County to implement mask mandates in county buildings.
As of Aug. 8, the Texas Department of State Health Services already reported that 829 students and 872 staff members had tested positive for COVID. On Monday, the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District in West Texas closed down for two weeks to quarantine staff and students.
The push for mask mandates and social distancing came after the number of COVID-19 positive cases rose around Texas, owing to the highly contagious Delta variant. Reports also claimed that according to Johns Hopkins University research data, the rolling seven-day average of daily new cases in Texas has reached 16,000 compared to 1,495 in June.
According to the report, Abbott is holding on to his mask-mandate ban even as hospitals fill with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. He did, however, instructed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to import medical personnel from out-of-state to supplement the COVID-19 operations in the state.