Update on how the governor’s removal of the statewide mask mandate affects public schools
COVID-19 TEA | Commissioner | SBOE
Date Posted: 3/03/2021 | Author: Monty Exter
TEA has released updated guidance today following Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that he was lifting the statewide mask order.
The updated guidance comes after ATPE and others advocated for TEA to put a quick end to the uncertainty faced by parents, educators, and students as districts grappled with how the governor’s announcement, which did not address schools, would affect local mandates.
According to the updated TEA guidance:
“Every student, teacher, or staff member shall wear a mask over the nose and mouth when inside a school building, school facility, facility used for school activities, or when in an outdoor space on school property or used for school activities, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; provided, however, that this mask requirement does not apply to the following:
- Any person younger than 10 years of age, except where a school system determines it is developmentally appropriate;
- Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask;
- Any person while the person is consuming food or drink, or is seated in a dining area to eat or drink;
- Any person while the person is: (a) exercising outdoors or engaging in physical activity outdoors; and (b) maintaining a safe distance from other people not in the same household; or
- Any person while the person is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience.”
The guidance goes on to say:
“The governing board of a school system may modify or eliminate by formal action the above mask-related requirements.”
The upshot: There is still a default mask requirement in place for Texas public schools, but local school boards have been given the power to opt out of the default requirement with an official board vote.
ATPE thanks TEA for heeding the call of many educators and parents alike to provide clarity on this issue.
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