Texas teachers union president wants students to wear masks in classroom

TSTA president: 'Masks must be a mandate for schools, not a recommendation'

Empty classroom (Pixlr)

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria announced Tuesday that the state needs to mandate that students and teachers wear masks on school campuses this fall.

Candelaria said in an email statement that said Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath are refusing to order school districts to mandate mask requirements.

“In their haste to reopen schools in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Gov. Abbott and Education Commissioner Mike Morath are refusing to order school districts to impose mask requirements on campuses or compel a systemic regimen to protect the safety of millions of Texans who are part of our public school system,” Candelaria’s said. “If schools are going to be forced to reopen prematurely, the Texas State Teachers Association demands that the governor and the education commissioner require every school district to mandate everyone entering a school campus or other workplace — students, teachers, staff, everyone — to wear a mask and be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.”

Related: San Antonio superintendents prepare for return of in-person classes this fall

Candelaria said a state mandate is the only way schools can safely return to face-to-face classes in the fall.

“The Texas Education Agency has prepared a list of guidelines, many of them good, for school reopenings, but safety remains first and foremost for educators and students,” Candelaria said. “And one of the most important safety recommendations from epidemiologists and other health care professionals is missing from the TEA list — a mandate that everyone on a school campus must wear a mask.

“The governor can preach the benefits of wearing a mask all he wants, but as long as he continues to dodge responsibility for issuing a mask order, some school officials won’t require them, and health risks for students and school employees will rise. The governor needs to be a leader and take the initiative on this critical health and safety issue.”

Related: Draft documents show Texas planning few mandatory safety measures when public schools reopen in fall

TSTA has set a list of other standards for safe schools, based on the recommendations of health care experts, which can be viewed here.

About the Author:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.