With school reopening, Gov. Greg Abbott sets off another debate over whether local or state officials are in control

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Gov. Greg Abbott has said that school boards are welcome to consult public health authorities as they make decisions about reopening campuses. He also said local health officials could shut down schools that have COVID-19 outbreaks after they reopen. Sacco/Caller-Times via REUTERS

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Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott moved to block local health authorities from shutting down classrooms before the school year has started. Since then, he has repeatedly said he is trusting local school leaders to decide whether and how to bring students back to classrooms this fall.

Those actions have left local officials confused about the limitations of their authority as the debate over reopening schools in the state continues. Abbott’s decision to curb the role of local health authorities has added to the ongoing conflict between the governor and local governments during the pandemic, with mayors and judges across the state voicing frustration over having their hands tied by the state’s response.