Despite spikes in Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations rates in their states, a few Republican governors are sticking to their bans on school districts requiring masks – a situation that alarms public health officials, who contend that masks are a significant step towards preventing the spread of COVID-19, particularly in schools, where most children have not yet received vaccines.
Rather than risk their lives, unvaccinated children should not be forced to gamble with their lives,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg at the announcement of a lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott for signing an executive order prohibiting school districts from forcing students and staff to wear masks.
Governors Of Republican States Are Opposing School Mandates With A Fervor
Dallas and the Southern Center for Child Advocacy, a nonprofit education organization, have also sued Abbott. The education commissioner is also being challenged by the largest school districts in the state.
Among those in Houston are school officials who imposed a mask requirement on teachers and staff regardless of vaccination status – a move that went against the governor’s order. Texas’ Houston Independent School District will vote on a mask requirement Thursday, with officials indicating they are in favor of the measure.
A growing number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are causing the Texas governor to ask health workers from out-of-state for help, while hospitals are being asked to postpone option medical procedures to put more beds on hand. In his executive order on school masks, Abbott declined to withdraw his order and simply called for individuals to take responsibility for their actions.
In the absence of a reconsideration of the executive order, Abbott is not alone. The governor told CBS’ Miami affiliate that he is committed to ensuring that parents have the right to make decisions about their children’s health care and education.
Providing a statement to CBS’ Miami affiliate, Governor Rick Scott emphasized his focus is parental rights to decide their children’s health care as well as their education. The state of Florida is also trying to contain an alarming coronavirus outbreak, which is almost entirely fueled by the new variant of the virus that is highly contagious and is infecting children more often than ever before. Currently, at least 135 children are hospitalized in Mississippi due to COVID-19.
Among the comments, McMaster made about the state law that bars schools from mandating masks are this: Closing down our state, closing schools, and masking kids who do not have a choice for the sake of protecting adults is not supported by the state of South Carolina.
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This divisive debate over mask requirements among students, educators, and staff is one of the most political divisions to rise out of the pandemic. With children under 12 not eligible for vaccination, the alarming surge in the delta variant threat not only thwarts school officials’ well-laid reopening plans but also pushes state executive commissions and state laws prohibiting school districts from requiring masks.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee said school boards have the authority to mandate masks, which goes against the GOP leadership’s threat to take legislative action against any school district ordering masks. The majority of students in the Metro Nashville area returned to school Tuesday after spring break. Asa Hutchinson, who signed a bill preventing districts from requiring masks into law, is working with Arkansas’s legislature to amend that law.
The states of Louisiana, New Jersey, and Illinois reinstated mask mandates that include K-12 schools, while the Democratic Virginia governor clarified that a state law passed in July actually requires masks for K-12 schools because it directs school districts to follow directives from the CDC.