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TEA: Masks still required in Texas schools, but local boards can opt out

The announcement comes after Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders to lift the state’s mask mandate and allow 100% occupancy at all businesses.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) issued new guidance on Wednesday, indicating public schools’ current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards, however, have full authority to determine their local mask policy, the TEA said.

The announcement comes after Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders on Tuesday to lift the state’s mask mandate and allow 100% occupancy at all businesses, starting on Wednesday, March 10.

RELATED: 'Opening Texas 100%': Gov. Abbott rescinds statewide face mask order, business restrictions

Abbott’s order continues to give the TEA authority to implement operational requirements for public schools.

Under the TEA’s updated guidance, every student, teacher or staff member must wear a mask over the nose and mouth when inside a school building, facility used for school activities or when in an outdoor space on school property or used for school activities, when it is not feasible to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

“The governing board of a school system may modify or eliminate by formal action the above mask-related requirements,” the TEA noted.

RELATED: Texas teachers and child-care workers now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, DSHS says

Exceptions to the mask mandate for schools include people younger than 10 years of age, those with medical conditions or disabilities that prevents them from wearing a mask, anyone consuming food or drink, those exercising outdoors while maintaining a safe distance and those giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience.

The news comes as the Texas Department of State Health Services announced educators and school support staff are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after a directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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