As Harris County enters the highest COVID-19 threat level while children under 12 remain unable to get vaccinated, parents are starting to worry that Governor Abbott’s prohibition of mask mandates will affect children’s health.
Some parents have been addressing their concerns to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has been vocal against Abbott’s executive order and has urged city employees to wear masks. Worried parents have asked Turner to consider implementing mask mandates in schools.
In response to the growing concerns, Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II announced a mask mandate proposal, which will need ratification from the district board who will review the case next week.
The proposal -which is closer to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- would require all district students and employees to wear masks in facilities and buses, a measure that would make them the largest district to go against Abbott’s order.
Following House’s announcement, the Houston Chronicle surveyed 32 area school districts about their masking plans, revealing that at least 17 districts would not challenge the governor’s order in spite of a surge of COVID-19 cases that is filling area hospitals.
“Our members have been clear that there needs to be clarity and leadership on this issue and the superintendent is moving in the right direction,” Anderson said. “We strongly believe that getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is crucial to protecting the health of our students and everyone who works in our schools,” said Jackie Anderson, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Even though Abbott’s order states fines for any local authority that challenges him, it is still unclear how the fine would be implemented for school districts that implement measures to keep children safe.