Texas Education Agency says school boards can determine their own mask policies

HOUSTON – When it comes to masks and children in school, the Texas Education Agency said the mask policy will be left up to each district’s school board.

After the announcement, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted, “I support HISD and every district in Harris County that is continuing COVID-19 protocols in light of the state decision to rescind all restrictions. We ask that other school districts do the same. We must do our part to protect teachers, children and our community.”

The TEA’S announcement comes 24 hours after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate and open Texas 100%.

“It isn’t what we wanted (for) the Texas Education Agency to come out with. We wanted to make sure our educators had something that could be enforced to keep them safe,” Ovidia Molina said.

Molina is the president of the Texas State Teachers Association.

“We feel like they’re passing the buck yet again,” she said.

After a year of online learning, the state has ordered all vaccine providers to immediately include teachers and school employees.

Andrew Dewey, the secretary-treasurer with the Houston Federation of Teachers, said it is a big relief and puts them at the front of the line.

“It means that we are just one step closer to opening schools safely,” Dewey said.

In Galveston, the district has already announced they will require masks through the end of the school year.

Billy Rudolph, the Galveston Independent School District’s communications manager, said about 70% of their students are back in the classroom and they received positive feedback from parents about the announcement.

“The medical community, our UTMB medical experts that we know, and trust are telling us that it’s still safest and you need to wear a mask, so we put our trust and faith in them we are going to continue that the remainder of the school year,” Rudolph said.

For now, many colleges and universities like TSU, UH and Rice say their sticking with their current COVID-19 guidelines, but some students told KPRC 2 the governor’s announcement was too soon.