Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s Executive Director of Communication Kristin Snively says the institution will follow Gov. Abbott’s executive order to remove mask mandates inside all government entities as the GCISD’s Board of Trustees has already considered lifting most Covid-19-related safety measures, including face-covering requirements starting in June. The order will become effective starting June 4, after the end of this school year.
The governor issued the executive order, which also applies to public schools, following steady declines in Covid-19 related cases and hospitalizations and promising vaccination figures. The state recently reported zero COVID deaths for the first time in more than a year. Abbott assured that the state will combat the virus through the use of vaccines and other non-invasive protocols.
“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. “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.”
The mandate results in the Texas Education Agency’s obligation to lift its face-covering requirements to staff, students, and parents. Local government agencies that refuse to life mask mandates will be fined up to $1,000 as of late May. The order does not include state-operated living establishments and hospitals, as well as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, county jails, and municipal jails.
Governor Abbott’s very first mask mandate order was peculiar and round-a-bout. He began by prohibiting counties from mandating masks but then hinted that there was a loophole for counties to skirt his order and still mandate masks. It wound up permitting counties to mandate businesses to mandate masks. In July of 2020, Abbott then instituted a bonafide mask mandate, requiring virtually all Texans to wear a mask in public spaces. In March of 2021, Abbott lifted the statewide mask mandate and nominally prevented local governments from instituting their mandates. However, several municipalities ignored him and stuck by their mandates.
“We make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine,” he said at the time. “My executive order, it supersedes local orders, with regard to any type of fine or penalty for anyone not wearing a mask.” Clear enough.
Governor Abbott’s actions have often been contrasted with those of Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis. The latter rescinded all meaningful COVID restrictions, including mask requirements all the way back in the Fall of 2020. DeSantis did technically allow localities to mandate masks, but he neutered their ability to enforce any orders. A recent order from Gov. DeSantis conflicts with Abbott’s approach. The Florida Governor was the first to ban local governments from mandating masks, beating his Texas counterpart by over two weeks. However, DeSantis’ order did not apply to public schools, whereas the Texas Governor’s order explicitly did.