Metro Health issues health directive mandating masks in Bexar County schools

Directive includes indoor masking requirements, parent notifications, rules for quarantining

SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Health Authority has issued a health directive for public schools after a judge granted San Antonio and the county a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools.

“We won a great victory today,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

“We’re on the right track now, but I must say it’s dangerous times,” he continued.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the health directive, issued by Dr. Junda Woo, the Metro Health medical director, will take effect immediately.

“We must protect those who are still not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes all children under age 12, and the unvaccinated members of their household,” said Woo in a written statement.

The health directive includes the following:

  • “Schools shall follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for universal indoor masking and require all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a face mask indoors.”
  • “Schools shall notify the student’s parents or guardians when the school learns that a student was in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with a COVID-19 positive individual on campus or during a school-related event.”
  • “Unvaccinated individuals who are determined to be in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person shall quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with a person who has COVID-19, as recommended by the CDC. "
  • “Students, staff, teachers, and visitors shall remain off campus and not attend any school-sponsored events during their quarantine period.”
  • “Fully vaccinated individuals should get tested three to five days after their exposure even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask in indoor public spaces for 14 days. Fully vaccinated individuals need not quarantine.”

See the full health directive below or click here.

Nirenberg discussed the severity of COVID-19 in our area, saying the positivity is currently at 21.4%. He said the positivity rate was at 24.2% during last year’s surge in July. See today’s COVID-19 numbers and what to know about the latest rise in San Antonio and surrounding areas here.

“Those numbers are climbing every day,” Wolff said, adding that he believes the number of hospitalizations will climb beyond those seen during the winter surge.

San Antonio city attorney Andy Segovia said the expecation is that there will be compliance by school districts regarding the new health directive.

North East Independent School District, San Antonio ISD, Idea Public Schools San Antonio, Edgewood ISD and South San Antonio ISD have stated they would comply with the health directive.

Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said they are taking it one step at a time and hope the judge “makes it a permanent injunction.” He says he believes other jurisdictions and counties are looking to Bexar County and San Antonio to see how they will proceed to protect their communities.

Gonzales released the following statement on Tuesday.

“Health officials have made it clear that there are two things that help to contain the spread of COVID-19, especially the Delta variant: vaccinations and masking. All that we are trying to do is to allow government to continue to serve the community, our schools to safely operate, to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly virus and avoid full closures. We know how harmful this latest surge has been to our community due to the highly infectious Delta variant. We could have avoided taking Governor Abbott to court if he would simply allow local government and schools to make public health decisions, with the advice of our local health experts, which are better suited for the circumstances present in our community. In coordination with the City of San Antonio, my office will continue to fight for the safety of the citizens of Bexar County.”

The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until another court hearing slated for 9 a.m. Monday.

City Manager Erik Walsh also announced Tuesday that all city facilities will require the use of face masks for staffs and visitors, which takes effect on Wednesday. Wolff said the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and SAPD have agreed to also enforce the mask order.

Watch the entire briefing in the video player below to hear more from city and county leaders. Click here to watch if you are reading KSAT’s coronavirus newsletter.

Bexar County Health Directive 8/10/21


About the Author:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio for four years. Using his graduate degree in business from UTSA, he developed "Money: It's Personal," a weekly series that airs on GMSA at 9 on Tuesdays. The series breaks down personal finance topics into easy explainers. Before living in SA, Ivan covered border news in the Rio Grande Valley.