Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order prohibiting mask mandates by local governments, schools

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Tuesday that prohibits counties, cities and other governmental entities from requiring masks after May 20.

School districts may not require students, teachers, parents or other staff to wear masks while on campus beyond June 4.

Starting May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” Abbott said in a news release. “Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

KTSM 9 News reached out to area school districts to get their reaction.

KTSM also reached out to the Ysleta and Canutillo school districts, but are still waiting to hear back on their plans.

Officials with the El Paso Independent School District said they are awaiting guidance from the Texas Education Agency. Socorro Independent School District said it will “incorporate the legal mandate into the district’s plans post June 4.” IDEA Public Schools will no longer require masks starting June 7. 

State organizations are also reacting to the governor’s order.

The Texas State Teachers Association’s President Ovidia Molina called the order “premature.”

“The governor should have waited until the CDC issues new mask guidelines for the 2021-22 school year before acting on masking requirements in public schools,” Molina said. “We know some school districts already have ended their mask mandates, and we believe that also is ill-advised. The health and safety of our students, educators and communities must remain our first priority as we attempt to emerge from this pandemic.”

State-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities and county and municipal jails are exempt from the order.

You can view the full order below or download here:

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