TEXAS — In a letter addressed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, state Democrats call on the governor to reconsider his position on masks as they relate to schools and make virtual leaning options available.
The letter, authored by state Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, and signed by more than 20 other Democratic lawmakers, is unlikely to change Abbott’s position. He’s already stated the time for government mandates concerning COVID-19 protections has passed and that he won’t reinstitute a mask mandate. He’s unlikely to make masks a requirement in Texas schools either.
Goodwin cites Texas’ troubling COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations over the past few weeks and the proliferation of the highly contagious delta variant in making her plea.
“Only weeks ago it may have seemed that we Texans were putting the COVID pandemic behind us. But the Delta variant has shown us that this is, sadly, not the case,” Goodwin wrote. “We now know that even vaccinated people can catch and spread coronavirus. Under these circumstances, we must continue to fight against the virus with all the tools at our disposal.”
Goodwin says she’s heard from parents and school officials that as the new school year approaches they are not satisfied that protections currently in place are sufficient. She first calls for virtual learning options for some students.
“To meet this challenge, schools must be given options that they currently do not have,” Goodwin wrote. “First among these is the ability to provide virtual instruction to those students who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID."
Goodwin then calls for Abbott to reconsider his policy on a school mask mandate.
“Children under twelve cannot get a COVID vaccine, which means they are vectors for infection for each other, their teachers, and their family members,” she wrote. “Putting them all in one building without masks is foolish. The parents and school officials who contacted us are worried about these children and want to see districts be given the autonomy they need to decide what is best for their students. Please reverse the current ban on mask mandates in schools.”
As of Monday morning, Gov. Abbott had not publicly commented on the letter.