WACO, Texas — School has just started for many students in Central Texas, and once again they are facing new changes when it comes to COVID-19 protocols.
The Texas Supreme Court refused to block injunctions against Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. This now gives schools a temporary pass to implement mask mandates in the classroom.
Bell County leaders have already acknowledged this is an ongoing issue.
“It’s a very challenging environment right now in the school districts, there is no doubt about that,” says Bell County Judge David Blackburn. “The start of school is going to represent a huge challenge for everyone.”
Judge Blackburn says they continue to communicate the best protocols with the Health District and health care professionals to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
Bell County Public Health Interim Director Nikki Morrow says they are being proactive to make sure students and teachers are safe.
“We’re going to encourage the school district to do anything possible that’s going to help keep our communities safe,” Morrow said.
The Texas Education Agency announced new guidelines where schools must notify all teachers, families and staff of a positive case in classrooms and extracurricular activities.
Temple ISD told WGNO’s sister station, FOX 44 in a statement:
“Per the guidance released by TEA yesterday, Temple ISD will continue to notify all staff and families on a campus when there is a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 case on that campus. At this time, GA-38 is still in place which prohibits public schools from mandating face coverings. Temple ISD will continue to strongly encourage the wearing of face coverings when it is not possible to practice personal spacing.”
“All of those orders that are being issued right now in my view across the state at the local jurisdictions do not have full force in the effect of law,” Judge Blackburn said. “The governor’s orders are still the law of the state until they are finally resolved at the court level.”
Schools now have the option to mandate masks at their schools, while the legal battle between Gov. Abbott and some school districts moves through the court system.
Waco ISD told FOX 44 in a statement:
“We believe that most of our students and employees will do the right thing and wear a mask whether they are mandated or not. That was certainly our experience when the mask mandate was lifted last spring. We’ll continue to monitor both legal and health developments as well as the use of masks when classes start Monday. As developments warrant, we’ll reassess our plans.”