AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Following Governor Abbott’s decision to end the mask mandate, the Texas Education Agency says it is up to local school boards to make their own mask policy.
After Governor Abbott’s decision to reopen the state, many school districts were hoping for some guidance from the Texas Education Agency on how to proceed.
Instead, some say there was never really a clear answer.
“The executive order you know said ‘Hey, you know ask mom’, and then it was like TEA ‘Oh well ask dad’. You know how parents do that and there’s never really a clear answer,” said Laura Abernathy, president of Amarillo Federation of Teachers.
The Texas Education Agency says it’s now up to local school boards to create their own mask policy.
“We are at the mercy of other authorities and Texas Education Agency is the first authority that governs all the schools in the state. Then from there we will have to discuss with local authorities moving forward,” said Darryl Flusche, superintendent of Canyon ISD.
Abernathy is the President of the Amarillo Federation of Teachers and says she has heard teachers both for and against getting rid of masks.
“It really does put teachers in a bad situation because if you’re not going to enforce a mask mandate and then you open the state up. You’re going to increase the exposure rate then you’re going to send students back to a classroom with no mask, or fighting the battle of a mask,” said Abernathy.
At the same time, many are tired of masks.
“A lot of teachers are really tired of fighting the battle of telling kids all day ‘Put your mask on, put your mask on’. We feel like we’ve seen the biggest hump I guess in the numbers, the rise, the cases,” said Abernathy.
With no state guidance, Abernathy says it is putting area schools in a tough place.
“One of our worries, is without masks, if we were in a situation without masks of students and staff and there was a positive case in the schools and they were around others. Will the health department cause us to quarantine the whole class, the whole grade level, or maybe even the whole school for a ten day period? And that’s a great inconvenience for our parents who need to be going to work,” said Flusche.
Abernathy says this decision feels like PTSD for some.
Last year for many teachers, they went on spring break and that’s when COVID-19 broke out changing everything.
Abernathy says many wonder if this could happen again with reopening the state just in time for spring break.
School districts have until Wednesday, March 10 to make a decision.