Gov. Abbott issues executive order prohibiting government entities, such as public schools, from mandating masks

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about migrant children detentions, in Dallas. Texas child welfare officials say they've received three reports of abuse and neglect at a San Antonio coliseum that is holding more than 1,600 immigrant teenagers who crossed the southern border. Child welfare officials would not reveal details about who made the allegations, but Abbott said his understanding was that they came from someone who had been inside the facility. One of the allegations include sexual abuse, but no further details were provided. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about migrant children detentions, in Dallas. Texas child welfare officials say they've received three reports of abuse and neglect at a San Antonio coliseum that is holding more than 1,600 immigrant teenagers who crossed the southern border. Child welfare officials would not reveal details about who made the allegations, but Abbott said his understanding was that they came from someone who had been inside the facility. One of the allegations include sexual abuse, but no further details were provided. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TEXAS – Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order Tuesday that will prohibit government entities, such as public schools, from mandating masks.

Counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities or government officials will not be allowed to mandate mask-wearing.

After June 4, students, teachers, parents, staff members or visitors will not be required to wear a mask while on campus.

Starting on May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with Abbott’s executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

“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. “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.”

Those 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, according to a release.

The Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina released the following statement:

“The Texas State Teachers Association believes Gov. Greg Abbott’s order ending all masking requirements in Texas public schools, effective June 4, 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. And many of these children will be attending in-person summer school.

“FDA approval for vaccinating children aged 12-15 was issued only last week, and there has been no approval for vaccinating children younger than 12.

“The governor should have waited until the CDC issues new mask guidelines for the 2021-22 school year before acting on masking requirements in public schools. We know some school districts already have ended their mask mandates, and we believe that also is ill-advised. The health and safety of our students, educators and communities must remain our first priority as we attempt to emerge from this pandemic.”

Houston Independent School District issued a statement saying it would comply with the order. Here’s the full statement:

“The Houston Independent School District is aware of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order issued today prohibiting public schools from requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks after June 4, 2021.  Houston ISD intends to comply with Governor Abbott’s order and awaits further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.”


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