TEXAS TRIBUNE – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that public schools can no longer require masks on their campuses starting June 5. The decision was part of a new executive order that bans government entities in Texas — like cities and counties — from mandating masks in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting Friday, any government entity that tries to impose a mask mandate can face a fine of up to $1,000, according to the order. The order exempts 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.
The order is arguably the most consequential for public schools. After Abbott ended the statewide mask requirement in early March, school systems were allowed to continue with their own mask-wearing policies unchanged. But after June 4, “no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering,” according to Abbott’s new order.
While 30% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the vast majority of children are unvaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine was authorized last week for children as young as 12. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only authorized for those 18 and older.
School-age children have seen lower infection rates than other age groups. COVID-19 cases among those 5-17 years old make up 10% of total cases in the country, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … Click here to read more.
Here’s what parents think
(CNN) When Bridget Wiedenmeyer learned Texas was banning mask mandates in public schools, she immediately worried about her 11-year-old daughter — who has a chronic lung condition but is too young to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
“There’s a large contingent of people who are like, ‘Well, only this teeny tiny percent of kids …. die of Covid.’ And I have an issue with that,” said the Austin mother, whose daughter frequently suffers from pneumonia.
“This notion that only a few kids will die — therefore we won’t make the rest wear a piece of cloth on their face — is mind-boggling to me.”
About 20 miles away, Teresa Ridenhour’s children celebrated when they learned they won’t be required to wear masks in school anymore.
“They were jumping up and down. ‘Can we burn our masks?'” recalled Ridenhour, who told them: “No, not yet.”
Decreasing Covid-19 numbers mean Texans should be able to enjoy more freedom from masks, Ridenhour said.
“I think we are to a point in this pandemic where everyone has to take control of their own health,” she said.
Across Texas, parents are rejoicing, criticizing or just trying to adjust to Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on public school mask mandates after June 4.
It follows the authorization of a vaccine for kids age 12 to 15 and new federal guidance that anyone who’s vaccinated can largely go maskless indoors and outdoors.
Other states are following Texas’ lead. On Thursday, Iowa’s governor signed a bill that prevents mask mandates in K-12 schools. Utah’s governor is considering a similar one.
While it’s easy to denounce an opposing viewpoint, some parents’ reasons for supporting or opposing bans on mask mandates may be more nuanced than you think.
A mom who had ‘terrible’ Covid-19 doesn’t want mask mandates in schools
Ridenhour knows how badly Covid-19 can attack healthy people … Click here to read more.