Existing Mask Rules Will Continue In Texas Schools Unless Districts Decide Otherwise

Schools now have the option to relax, or do away with masking rules if districts see fit.

By Rhonda Fanning & Caroline CovingtonMarch 4, 2021 11:45 am, , , , ,

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent rollback of statewide COVID-19 restrictions has big implications for Texas public schools. The Texas Education Agency is now leaving it up to school boards to decide whether to keep mask rules in place.

Texas Public Radio’s Camille Phillips updated Texas Standard about what the executive order means for students and teachers. Plus, she shared some new developments with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Existing masking rules are the default in public schools, but school boards can decide

“[The] Texas Education Agency came back and said that they would leave it up to local school boards to decide if they wanted to continue to require masks. And that means that they could either keep the existing policy in place, which would does require masks, or have the local school boards come and modify or even eliminate their mask mandates,” Phillips told the Standard.

She says Zeph Capo, Texas president of the American Federation of Teachers is concerned about giving school boards that option.

“I’m a little concerned about the fact that local boards can, you know, pass policy to do away with masking for everyone. But I’m very glad to see that the default is to continue the mask requirements unless there’s board action,” Capo told Texas Public Radio.

What are the existing masking rules?

Phillips said “anyone 10 and older needed to wear a mask on campus as long as it was developmentally appropriate.”

She says so far, most schools are keeping the masking rules, except one district in Lubbock that plans to relax them.

Teachers are now part of the Phase 1B vaccine rollout

Teacher, along with child care workers and all K-12 employees are now eligible to get vaccinated. One Houston-area teacher, Leana Silva, told Phillips’ reporting partner in Houston that the news was a big relief.

“When you hear this kind of news, you realize that you’ve been clenching your jaw for a very, very long time or that you’ve been tensing up in the back of your neck or your shoulders. You can – a lot of us feel that tension and stress of, Is today, the day that I’m going to get sick?” she said.

Now it’s just a matter of those educators finding available vaccine doses, Phillips says.

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