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Texas Education Agency 'refraining' from updating guidance as conflict over mask requirements grows

Austin-Travis County leaders are requiring residents to wear masks in government buildings and schools, directly against Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) said it is now “refraining from issuing updated public health guidance” as conflict between Gov. Greg Abbott and Austin city leaders, and other big-city school districts, grows over mask requirements in schools.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown announced Wednesday that residents will be required to wear masks in government buildings and schools. The order goes directly against Abbot’s recent executive order that says no government entity can mandate or require masks.

Adler said Austin-Travis County’s decision was in support of Austin ISD’s decision to require masks on campus, also against Abbott’s order.

The TEA’s statement reads in full:

“In light of the conflict currently being resolved in the courts between Executive Order GA-38 and certain local orders and actions, TEA is refraining from issuing updated public health guidance at this time.”

The TEA released new COVID-19 guidance for the 2021-22 school year last week. Its guidance says schools cannot require students or staff to wear masks, per Abbott’s order.

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The TEA also said schools are not required to conduct contact tracing and don’t have to inform parents of a positive case. Children who are close contacts, if contact tracing is performed, can still come on campus if they want.

Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, in response, that any entity in violation of Executive Order GA-38 "will be taken to court."

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