Texas Education Agency temporarily disrupts Gov. Abbott's ban on mask mandates

Texas Education Agency temporarily disrupts Gov. Abbott's ban on mask mandates
Greg Abbott speaking at FreePac, hosted by FreedomWorks, in Phoenix, Arizona in Oct. 2012, Gage Skidmore

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) executive order banning mask mandate for the state's public schools has been temporarily suspended, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

On Thursday, August 19, TEA released new guidance on public health to address the new ruling, reports Politico. In the letter, it was confirmed that the order was being dropped due to current ongoing litigation. The letter also noted that "the new guidance is effective immediately and further guidance will be issued once the litigations are resolved."

The letter also includes a number of suggestions and mitigation recommendations for schools. Public school system officials are encouraged to correspond with local officials before finalizing any COVID or public health-related decisions.

School districts are also now required to "notify their teachers, staff members and families if a test confirms a COVID-19 case in a classroom or extracurricular activity."

The latest ruling comes as many COVID statistics continue to surge in Texas. Daily reports have highlighted an accelerated rise in severe COVID cases and hospitalizations among adults and children of all ages.

Politico reports:

"As of Aug. 8, the most recent total available from the Texas Department of State Health Services, 829 students and 872 staff members had tested positive for Covid-19. On Monday, the Iraan-Sheffield Independent School District in West Texas closed its schools for two weeks so students and staff could quarantine due to Covid-19."

According to Axios, more than 80,000 Texans are hospitalized, statewide, due to COVID.

But despite the public health crisis Texas is facing as intensive care unit (ICU) beds become more scarce, Abbott has continued his efforts to ban mask mandates. The TEA announcement also came on the same day the Texas Supreme Court declined to uphold the Republican governor's mandate due to a technicality.

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