Texas Education Agency Updates Public Health Guidance
- By Matt Jones
- March 05, 2021
Following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement on Tuesday that he was revoking the statewide mask mandate effective next week, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has updated its public health guidelines for state schools.
The agency suggests that schools continue to follow current mask policies, especially for students over 10 years old. However, it also grants local school boards “full authority to determine their local mask policy.”
Many Texas school districts have already released statements indicating that they will continue to require students, faculty, and staff to wear masks during the school day or at school functions. These include Dallas ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Denton ISD, Cedar Hill ISD, and others.
The executive director of the United Educators Association, Steven Poole, suggested that he doesn’t see many districts or school boards ready to rescind the requirement quite yet. “I don’t see any of our districts doing that, especially with the guidance from the Texas Education Agency that masks are required,” he said. “It would take a lot to overturn that guidance from TEA.”
The updated guidelines also state that, while school faculty and staff are now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, it will not be required, nor can school districts require their employees to be vaccinated.
Finally, the TEA revised its requirements for cleaning surfaces in schools and on school property. Citing evidence that “COVID-19 does not easily spread on surfaces and that increased cleaning practices may not be beneficial in reducing spread,” the agency will cease requiring schools to close down areas of the building in which those with lab-confirmed cases of COVID might have spent time. The new procedure lets school districts set their own standards for cleaning schools and buses.