HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott says no schools or government entities can require people to wear masks.
He issued the executive order Tuesday afternoon and it goes into effect Friday.
As for school districts, they have until June 4 to get rid of their mask requirements for students, teachers and visitors.
And if a government entity tries to enforce a mask mandate, they could be hit with $1,000 fine. This is causing educators some concern.
While 30 percent of Texans are fully vaccinated, a majority of children are not. The first vaccine approved for children 12 and older was approved last week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends fully vaccinated people ditch their masks.
The governor says he issued the order because he believes individual Texans should make their "own decision" about what to do with their "own health.”
Tiffany Garay, a mother of five whose 4-year-old, AJ, was born with a congenital heart defect, said she was disappointed to hear about Abbott’s decision.
AJ has had several open heart surgeries already, is immunocompromised and is in palliative care. His four siblings are healthy, but Garay said she’s worried about them going to school when other kids aren’t wearing masks.
“They are already feeling very excluded from a lot of things,” Garay said. “Now you’re making them feel even more excluded. It’s just about people having some empathy. There needs to be a compromise somewhere.”
On the other side, Diana Miller, a former teacher with three school-aged grandchildren, said the masks, social distancing and other protective measures, have taken a mental health toll on the kids and welcomed the Executive Order.
“When I saw that I thought, thank God the governor has done it,” Miller said. “It has been a constant struggle trying to make the children feel as normal as possible.
Miller said the mask mandate at Fort Bend ISD has contributed to her 8-year-old grandchild’s worries, especially.
“Everybody wants to follow the rules and be safe, but it just seems that the mental health part of it has been excluded," she said.
Children can catch COVID-19 and become very ill or die, however, doctors say cases tend to be more mild overall.
“We can’t have them living in fear if the fear isn’t that justified,” Miller said.
Several Houston-are school districts began issuing statements Tuesday afternoon in response to the governor’s order.
“The Houston Independent School District is aware of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order issued today prohibiting public schools from requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks after June 4, 2021. Houston ISD intends to comply with Governor Abbott’s order and awaits further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.”
Spring Branch ISD
“No action regarding mask requirements at Spring Branch ISD will be taken before May 24. Current mask requirements will remain in effect until the board takes action on Monday, May 24.”
Fort Bend ISD
"In keeping with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order today that prohibits governmental entities, including school districts, from mandating or requiring individuals to wear masks, Fort Bend ISD has adjusted its health and safety protocols.
"Effective June 5, 2021 students, staff, parents and visitors will no longer be required to wear masks in schools and in District buildings. However, any individual may wear a mask if they choose to do so. Personal choices about mask wearing is to be respected at all times by all staff, students, parents and visitors.
"FBISD remains committed to making prudent decisions, no matter how difficult, to keep students, staff, parents and their families as safe as possible."