Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responds to CDC mask recommendation update

Local

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — After the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced updated guidelines for masks in the country, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded on social media, making his message clear that any further mandates in Texas will not be happening.

On Tuesday, the CDC recommended counties with high COVID-19 transmission rates bring back masks indoors, even for vaccinated individuals. The agency also said school students K-12 should wear masks in the classroom, regardless of vaccination status.

In May, Abbott announced local government entities, including school districts, could not enforce mask mandates, leaving it up to people to decide for themselves.

El Paso parents and teachers have voiced concerns for safety in the classroom, specifically in elementary schools where students younger than 12 years old are not eligible for the vaccine.

“Our transmission rate is low, the percentage is fairly good but it could be better, we have a lot of parents and kids that could be vaccinated that are not vaccinated,” El Paso Teachers Association President Norma de la Rosa said.

Abbott reiterated his message on social media that he believes the time for mask mandates has passed and it’s now “time for personal responsibility.”

“We are calling on the governor to rethink this because Delta {variant} is now affecting and infecting people that have not been vaccinated,” De La Rosa said.

KTSM 9 News asked the Texas Education Agency if it would ask the governor for a waiver following the CDC’s announcement. A spokesperson for the agency responded with the statement:

Governor Abbott’s most recent executive order regarding masking (Executive Order GA-36) issued on May 18, 2021, prohibits governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing.

TEA’s public health guidance reflects this latest executive order, and outlines the current operational requirements for public schools:

Texas Education Agency

In response, the Texas State Teachers Association is calling for the governor to change his mind.

“This governor is not going to relent and he’s going to stay firm on his saying that it’s OK that people can go without masks, especially if they’ve been vaccinated,” De La Rosa said.

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