Texas Supreme Court rejects governor’s request, allowing mask mandate for now

U.S. and World

Roxana Weeks, 8, and sister Farah, 4, stand with their family as students and parents gather outside the Governor’s Mansion to urge Gov. Greg Abbott to drop his opposition to public school mask mandates, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Austin, Texas. The Texas Supreme Court has blocked mask mandates ordered by two of the nation’s largest counties that defied Republican Gov. Greg Abbott as COVID-19 cases surge. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (NEXSTAR) — The Texas Supreme Court has declined to block restraining orders against Gov. Greg Abbott’s mask mandate ban.

The justices remanded Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal to the 3rd Texas Court of Appeal in Austin for a hearing. The court did not issue an opinion for its Thursday decision.

The move comes the same day as the Texas Education Agency dropped, for now, enforcement in the state’s public school systems of Abbott’s mask mandate ban. Both the court ruling and the TEA’s policy change are temporary.

In a public health guidance letter issued Thursday, the TEA said enforcement was being dropped because of ongoing court challenges to the ban.

The TEA said the new guidance “takes effect immediately, replacing all prior guidance” and requires that schools notify a local health department in the case of a test-confirmed case of COVID-19.

“Please note, mask provisions … are not being enforced as the result of ongoing litigation,” the document continues. “Further guidance will be made available after the court issues are resolved.”

As the new school year begins for Texas students, at least four school districts have had to temporarily close campuses due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

The shutdowns are taking place as more school districts and communities continue this week to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates and require students and residents to wear face coverings.

At least 21 Texas school districts have mask mandates.

The superintendent for one Austin school district with a mandate says a parent “physically assaulted” one teacher by ripping a mask off her face.

Tuesday afternoon, Abbott’s office announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. Abbott, who is vaccinated, was experiencing no symptoms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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