AUSTIN, Texas – Students, teachers, parents, staff members and visitors at Texas public school campuses will no longer be required to wear face coverings beginning June 5, according to an executive order issued Tuesday by Gov. Greg Abbott.
In addition to school districts, the executive order prohibits counties, cities, public health authorities, and government officials in Texas from requiring or mandating mask wearing.
Beginning Friday, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000, the news release said.
“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”
The move drew a sharp rebuke from Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina, who said Abbott’s order is “premature.”
“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,” Molina said. “And many of these children will be attending in-person summer school.”
Another faculty group, the Texas Faculty Association, urged Abbott to allow colleges and universities to continue imposing mask requirements.
“At least until a larger number of Texans are vaccinated against the coronavirus. Many Texans are not vaccinated, and university faculty and employees have no way of knowing who is and who isn’t vaccinated on their campuses and in their classrooms. Our health and safety and the health and safety of our families are extremely important to us, and that must be a top priority for the governor,” TFA President Pat Heintzelman said in a statement..
Exempt from the executive order are 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.
You can read Abbott’s executive order below: