On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order prohibiting government entities—including public schools—from requiring or issuing mask mandates.
Local governments and officials who attempt to impose a mask mandate in conflict with the executive order will be fined up to $1,000 starting May 21.
This will apply to public schools after the end of the school year.
Effective at the end of the day on June 4, the Texas Education Agency will have to amend its guidelines so face-covering mandates will no longer be required of parents, students, teachers, and visitors.
After Abbott’s order in March repealed the statewide mask mandate he had implemented the year before, school boards were allowed to vote on their policy going forward. Many educators and school boards supported mandating face coverings, whereas others voted to end their mandates.
The executive order states that COVID hospitalizations and new cases have seen a steady decline since March, when the state mask mandate was lifted and private businesses were no longer required to mandate face coverings.
Some local government entities, however, caused confusion by continuing to mandate face coverings.
“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,” stated Abbott. “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.”
State-supported living facilities, hospitals owned or operated by the government, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, county jails, and municipal jails are not included in the order.