Valley superintendents respond to Gov. Abbott's executive order ending statewide mask mandate
After following strict safety protocols throughout the entire school year, some Valley educators were left with concerns following Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order on Tuesday.
"The mask gives us a sense of security and safety," Hidalgo Independent School District Superintendent Xavier Salinas said. "The cases are high still. I think that with only 5% of Texans being vaccinated at this time, we should wait a little bit longer, because this is just going to start the whole epidemic again."
On Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released updated guidelines following Abbott's announcement.
According to the TEA, public schools must still require all students, teachers and staff members to wear a mask when inside a school building or facility, or in an outdoor setting where social distancing may not be possible--unless local school boards decide to make masks optional.
"We want to maintain those safety measures and protocols," Donna Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez said. "We want to continue doing it because we still are seeing cases every day."
Azaiez said he's on board with keeping masks mandatory for teachers, students and staff in his district.
He said he wishes the governor's announcement would have been made later, after more of the district's teachers, staff and families were vaccinated.
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced educators are now eligible to get the vaccine.