SAN ANTONIO — As the delta variant-fueled COVID-19 virus worsens in Texas and students are headed back to school, opposition to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order forbidding mask mandates and other virus protections is growing.
A judge granted the City of San Antonio and Bexar County Tuesday a temporary restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott, that will grant the San Antonio Bexar County Health Authority the ability to “immediately issue an order requiring masks in public schools and requiring quarantine if an unvaccinated student is determined to be in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual,” a news release states.
“We are challenging the governor’s authority to suspend local emergency orders during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “Ironically, the governor is taking a state law meant to facilitate local action during an emergency and using it to prohibit local response to the emergency that he himself declared.”
The lawsuit comes as several large Texas school districts have taken protections into their own hands. Dallas ISD on Monday announced it has put a temporary mask mandate in place, and that was followed by Austin ISD making a similar announcement a short time later. Houston ISD, the largest school district in the state, is set to vote on a mask mandate later this week.
School districts in Bexar County have yet to follow suit.
“As the school year begins, the health of our students, especially those under 12 who are not eligible to be vaccinated, are being put at risk. The pandemic is not over. We need to continue to utilize every tool we have to combat the very contagious delta variant. We have come too far to allow our students to be super spreaders and put more lives at risk,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
On Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins announced he is challenging the mask mandate ban legally as well.
Jenkins filed a temporary restraining order and declaratory judgment to prevent Abbott’s mask ban from being enforced.