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Judge upholds injunction against Abbott's order; city can mandate masks at schools, for now

The decision is the latest in the ongoing fight between local leaders and the state over the governor's order that banned local governments from requiring masks.

SAN ANTONIO — District Judge Toni Arteaga has granted an injunction to the City of San Antonio and Bexar County against Gov. Abbott's executive order regarding masks.

Thursday's hearing is the latest in the ongoing fight between local leaders across the state and Abbott's administration over the governor's order that banned local governments from instituting mask mandates. On Monday a temporary injunction was issued, and the one ordered on Thursday upheld it.

"The fourth court of appeals upheld that injunction," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. "The temporary injunction means that the Governor's order is not affective until the trial date of December 13th.  Of course, they will appeal it to the Supreme Court, and we may not do so well there. A good victory today."

On August 10, Bexar County Health Director Junda Woo signed an order requiring all students, instructors, staff and visitors to Bexar County schools to wear masks, "regardless of vaccination status."  

The order also requires Bexar County school officials to notify parents in the event of new COVID-19 cases on campus.  

The same day, a district court judge cleared the way for local mask mandates via a restraining order against Gov. Abbott.

"I realize this is really confusing," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. "The simple truth masks work. Vaccines work. And we need to use them if we want to put an end to the pandemic.” 

 “Every day that our unvaccinated children are protected in schools by masks is a win for our entire community," he said. "We are all for personal responsibility. But we have an obligation to the public health.” 

Monday's decision comes one day after the Texas Supreme Court granted stay orders against temporary restraining orders by appellate courts in San Antonio and Dallas that allowed mask mandates despite the executive order prohibiting them.

RELATED: San Antonio ISD will require teachers, staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

RELATED: North East ISD won't mandate masks following temporary injunction issued Monday

On Friday, the Fourth Court of Appeals decided to uphold local leaders' authority to mandate face coverings in schools, in turn denying an attempt by Abbott to appeal a district court judge's decision earlier this week to issue a temporary restraining order against the governor's executive order banning such mandates. 

Coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state and children go back to classrooms for the start of the new school year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement stating all students older than two and all school staff should wear masks at school.

Children under 12 are not eligible for a vaccine, and hospitals are seeing a rise in cases amongst children. While most do not experience severe infection, Dr. Jason Bowling, Director of Hospital Epidemiology at University Health, said the Delta variant is much more transmissible, and more kids are getting sick. He added, if more and more kids are getting sick, more kids may require hospitalization. 

“And unfortunately some are dying," Bowling said.

   

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