City, county leaders sign order requiring masks in public schools

Austin-Travis County leaders have signed orders requiring masks in public schools and city and county buildings.

Mayor Steve Adler and County Judge Andy Brown announced the orders via Twitter.

Mayor Adler stated the order to require masks is in part to support Austin ISD's decision to require masks for all on district property starting today.

The orders follow the move to Stage 5 of Austin Public Health's COVID-19 risk-based recommendations

Under the latest orders enacted by the City of Austin and Travis County: 

  • Students, staff, and visitors over the age of two are REQUIRED to wear a face covering while on school property or school buses during Stages 3, 4, and 5. This includes all public schools, including public charter schools in the City of Austin.
  • An individual over the age of two is REQUIRED to wear a face covering while present on or in City and County property unless expressly exempted in Section 2 or by a City or County policy applicable to the premises or facility.

The orders for Travis County schools and facilities and the City of Austin schools and facilities are effective as of 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 12, and govern individuals and sites and impose requirements they say are "reasonably necessary" to protect public health related to the transmission of COVID-19. 

Under Stage 5, the city and county recommend individuals to continue doing the following:

Fully vaccinated individuals should:  

  • Avoid large gatherings where masks are not required if you are a high-risk individual
  • Talk with your loved ones who may be unvaccinated about receiving the vaccine

Partially or unvaccinated individuals should:  

  • Get fully vaccinated
  • Stay home and avoid gatherings and travel
  • Choose curbside and delivery options
  • Wear a mask when conducting essential activities. Choose establishments that are protecting their customers and staff with mask wearing, social distancing and measures to stop the spread of COVID-19

Austin-Travis County is joining other counties in the state that are pushing back against Gov. Abbott's mask mandate ban

On Tuesday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins ruled Abbott's ban on mask mandates does not help combat the pandemic and granted Dallas County the authority, at least for now, to go ahead and defy the governor's order and require masks.

The same day, a Bexar County judge granted a temporary restraining order for the city of San Antonio and Bexar County against the mask mandate ban. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg shared the news via Twitter, saying that the San Antonio Bexar County Health Authority has now issued a directive requiring masks in all public K-12 schools in Bexar County.

Harris County is also filing a lawsuit to challenge the executive order.

On Wednesday, Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a petition to strike down Judge Jenkins's order, attesting that Jenkins's order violates executive order GA-38, which prohibits government entities and officials from mandating masks, and state law.

Abbott and Paxton cite the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, claiming that it "clearly states" Abbott has the power to "guide the state through emergencies," such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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City, county leaders sign order requiring masks in public schools
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