After Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is lifting the statewide mask mandate, local school districts responded to a flood of questions from families about how the governor’s announcement will affect students.
Abbott said that people should still follow the recommended medical guidance, but that a state mandate was no longer necessary. The mask mandate, and restrictions on businesses’ capacity, will be lifted on March 10. City and county officials around the state, including both Republicans and Democrats, criticized the decision as being too early.
Each southern Denton County school district soon released statements in response to the news. Lewisville, Northwest and Argyle ISDs all said they will keep their current safety protocols in place until they receive further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.
Denton ISD, however, said it “remains committed to the protocols currently in place, including wearing face coverings.” The district’s COVID-19 mitigation procedures were developed with guidance from local officials and are based on recommendations from the CDC and TEA, and the district says those protocols have kept schools open and minimized risk.
“Our teachers have yet to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine, and they have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic — keeping schools open for our students,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools, in a statement. “We will look at our protocols based on the announcement, and the safety of our students and staff is paramount.”
Denton County announced Tuesday that it will follow the state guidelines and allow businesses to open 100% and lift the mask mandate on March 10.
“We are following the governor’s lead on reopening Texas to allow all businesses to operate at 100 percent,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “Twice before when I had the legal authority to open our local businesses, I immediately opened them that same day.”
Cases of COVID-19 have continued a downward trend in recent months. Trauma Service Area E, which includes Denton County, is at 9.18% of hospital capacity as of March 1.
“We have seen a decrease in the hospitalization rate in our region and across the county,” Eads said.