School districts can determine mask policies, can’t mandate vaccines, Texas Education Agency says

TEA still to require masks for students over the age of 10

FILE - (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Ted S. Warren, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – When Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that Texas would fully reopen businesses and lift the mandate on masks beginning March 10, many wondered how that would impact the state’s schools.

Now, the Texas Education Agency has issued new guidance in response to Executive Order GA-34.

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TEA officials said the governor’s order does not take away the agency’s authority to implement operational requirements for public schools.

Under the new guidance, schools should continue to require masks for anyone over the age of 10, but local school boards have the authority to modify or eliminate the policy.

The TEA also updated requirements for the cleaning of surfaces in schools, which no longer requires schools to close off areas that may have been heavily used by the individual with the lab-confirmed case.

The guidance also relaxes its guidance on cleaning practices saying, “Increasingly, evidence suggests that COVID-19 does not easily spread on surfaces and that increased cleaning practices may not be beneficial in reducing spread.”

Additional cleaning practices for schools and buses are now at the discretion of each school system.

TEA officials also responded to the news that educators and school support staff are eligible for vaccines effective immediately.

Teachers will not be required to get the vaccine at this point and school districts cannot mandate that employees get vaccinated, TEA officials said.

About the Author

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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