TEA: Mask mandate to stay in effect, but school boards can vote to remove them

The Texas Education Agency says the mask requirement for schools will stay in place for now.

In light of Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift the statewide mask mandate, the TEA issued new guidelines Wednesday.

RELATEDGov. Abbott ends statewide mask mandate, fully reopens all Texas businesses

The agency says a public school system’s mask mandate will continue to remain in effect unchanged.

However, the TEA added that local school boards have "full authority" over their mask policies and can choose to remove them.

Social distancing and screening procedures for teachers, staff and students have not changed.

The new guidelines also allow schools to determine for themselves how frequently they should clean surface areas.

Governor Abbott’s decision to end the statewide mask mandate isn’t sitting well with everyone in the education field, including the American Federation of Teachers.

"I have not found a medical professional yet that agrees with his decision from a healthcare standpoint," said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT President.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa says the district will not change its policy and continue to require masks be worn by teachers, staff and students.

"Our stance is unless they ask me to put it on the agenda, I’m not. Because I think the right thing to do is to keep our students and staff safe," he said. "We’re so close now. Everything’s headed in the right direction, and we can’t let up right now."

Capo is urging all districts to keep their mask policies in place until more than just 7% of the state is fully vaccinated.

"We cannot forget that Texas in particular is still in what the CDC classifies as a substantial transmission category," he said. "Just stay the course for just a few more months because there is light at the end of the tunnel."                      

It was also announced on Wednesday that teachers, daycare and preschool workers are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas.

MORE: Teachers, daycare workers now eligible to get COVID-19 vaccine in Texas