The Texas Education Commissioner held a conference call with school districts today and announced revised rules for public schools regarding quarantine. Specifically:
1. Schools can quarantine positive and symptomatic students for 10 days
2. Parents can choose to quarantine students who are close contact-schools cannot require it
3. Schools will be paid for instructional days which they are calling “remote conferencing” for those children quarantined by either the parent or the school. There is a 20 day limit but extensions can be requested on a case by case basis.
4. Schools still cannot require masks according to the governor
Many local school districts here were waiting on this guidance, citing that the guidance changes weekly based on the current state of the pandemic as well as mandates.
Some Texas school districts announce they will require masks
This week, two major Texas school districts announced that staff, students, and visitors will be required to wear face masks, effective this week. Dallas Independent School District and Austin Independent School District both made that decision this Monday.
The Houston Independent School District board is set vote on a mask requirement later this week. The City of San Antonio and Bexar County have fled a lawsuit asking for a restraining order against the governor’s ban on masks (read separate press release).
Governor Abbott issued the executive order in July banning public schools and other government entities from mandating masks, making it illegal to follow public health guidance by the CDC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics have advised that all people in K-12 schools wear masks indoors.
Abbott stated earlier this month that he was past the point of issuing government mandates to slow the spread of COVID-19, stating that it is time for personal responsibility, which he emphasized when he took away the statewide mask mandate earlier this year.
On the flip side, experts cite how one person’s decision not to wear a mask affects others.
On Monday, SA news stations reported that many districts were still planning to meet on their safety protocols later this week.
Texas is one of a small number of states not allowing cities, counties and schools to enforce those public health guidelines.
Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson, also banned masks this past April, saying it should be left up to personal choice. This Tuesday, Arkansas had only eight ICU beds left available in the State. This week the Arkansas governor has announced that banning masks was “an error.”