EL PASO, Texas — Despite the fact that he is dug in on the issue, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego Wednesday sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to permit school districts to mandate mask usage on campus.
“…. Our youngest citizens remain ineligible to receive the vaccine, and we are now faced with the great risk presented to them just as they have returned to school,” the letter reads.
The fall semester for most school districts in Texas begins in just a few weeks and as it stands there are no vaccines approved for children under 12.
Many schools in the El Paso area have already resumed in-person learning.
“The feedback we have received from educators overwhelmingly supports local discretionary authority for facemask requirements, especially since our young children cannot receive the vaccine. The use of facemasks will aid in the return to normalcy in school operations while providing the safety our little ones need, and the peace of mind parents yearn for,” the letter continues.
Abbott last week doubled down on prohibiting mask and vaccine mandates, issuing an executive order that expressly forbids agencies that receive state dollars from implementing them.
Meanwhile, Texas on Wednesday reported more than 19,000 new cases of COVID-19. More than 7,000 Texans are hospitalized with the virus. According to White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients Texas and Florida over the past week accounted for one-third of all new cases of the virus across the nation.
“Children this age are innocent and trusting. They may not be as vigilant with precautions as adults, especially since teachers and administrators are spread thin and cannot watch over every child every second of the day,” the letter continues.
“We urge you to revise your order to allow school districts discretionary authority for facemask requirements to protect the youngest among us,” the letter concludes.