San Antonio-area school districts respond to Gov. Greg Abbott’s order on mask mandate ban

Order drew criticism from Texas State Teachers Association, Texas Faculty Association

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SAN ANTONIO – After Gov. Greg Abbott ordered public schools and government entities to no longer require masks, a few San Antonio-area districts have offered guidance for teachers, staff and students going forward.

The Republican governor on Tuesday said that beginning June 5, students, teachers, parents, staff members and visitors at Texas public school campuses and facilities will no longer have to wear face coverings — a rollback of one of the biggest safeguards in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Counties, cities, public health authorities and government officials will also be barred from enforcing such mandates. State-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails are exempt from the order.

In a statement, Abbott cited “safe practices,” vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs as reasons for the virus’ decline in Texas. He added that Texans should be able to “choose whether or not they mask up.”

“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities,” he said. “We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

His announcement drew criticism from the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas Faculty Association, which urged continued use of face coverings.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that schools require masks and social distancing for the remainder of the school year because many students have not been vaccinated and will not complete their two-dose regimen of Pfizer vaccines until well into the summer,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said in a news release. “And many of these children will be attending in-person summer school.”

While masks will not be required after June 4, one area district has decided to move up the deadline, while another is still in staunch support of face coverings.

Here’s what school districts have said so far. This story will be updated as more schools give guidance going forward:

  • Boerne ISD - Students and staff will be required to wear face coverings through the current school year. They will be optional when summer school begins on June 1, the district said.
  • Edgewood ISD - The district tweeted that it will abide by Abbott’s order that will prohibit the requirement of masks after June 4, but it “expresses its strong support for encouraging students, staff, and guests to continue to wear face coverings in all district facilities or at district events.” The district will still have weekly testing for students and staff, sanitize often, and work with providers to offer the vaccine.
  • Judson ISD - The district will encourage but not require face coverings for students, staff and visitors starting June 5.
  • North East ISD - The district will drop its mask requirement policy at schools and facilities starting on June 5. “This applies to all students, staff and visitors. Anyone who would like to continue to wear a mask, may certainly choose to do so,” the district said.
  • San Antonio ISD - The district will keep its mask mandate in place until June 4. It has released the following statement: “As a school district, we must comply with the state’s executive order prohibiting government entities from requiring masks after June 4. Our school year ends on Thursday, June 17, and we are disappointed that the executive order takes effect so soon.”
  • Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD - The school board voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to modify its face-covering requirement ahead of Abbott’s deadline. Starting at 1 p.m. Friday, students, teachers and staff will no longer have to wear face coverings inside a district building or facility. Effective immediately, face coverings are no longer required for staff or students outdoors. “Face coverings are optional and may still be worn by those who choose to continue this practice,” the district said.

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