In a statement Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stressed that only local school boards and superintendents, not local governments, have the power to decide how to open schools this fall during the coronavirus situation.
"The bottom line is the people who know best about that are the local school officials," Abbott said.
Texas educators and parents have been confused about who has the power to keep school buildings closed. They’ve also been frustrated by conflicting messages from state and local leaders.
Abbott also said that in preparation for the new school year, the state has already distributed to schools more than 59 million masks, more than 24,000 thermometers, more than 565,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, and more than 500,000 face shields. He promised schools would have their personal protective equipment needs met at no cost to them, with the state picking up the tab.
Attorney General Ken Paxton recently issued a legal opinion that prohibits local health authorities from issuing blanket school closures in their jurisdictions before the academic year begins, and Abbott and other state leaders have backed him. Local school boards can decide to keep schools closed to in-person learning for up to eight weeks, with the possibility to apply for waivers to remain shuttered beyond that timeframe.
Under the state's guidance, local health officials can only intervene if there is an outbreak once students return to campus, at which point they can temporarily shut down a school.
Schools in Alpine ISD are scheduled to open Aug. 19 for both in-person and remote classes.
The latest data show 3,834,586 Texans had been tested for the coronavirus, with 442,014 testing positive, or 11.5%, up slightly from last week.
Deaths stood at 7,015, or about 1.6% of those testing positive, up slightly from last week.
Of the active cases, 8,819 are hospitalized, or about 6.4% of active cases, down for the fourth straight week.
Texas currently has 11,916 hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients, and 6,563 ventilators. In the Tri-County
As of Aug. 4, Brewster County reported 184 COVID-19 positive test results out of 3,267 tested, 173 recoveries, two deaths, and 11 active cases. Even with consistently fewer than 20 cases in the county, Judge Eleazar Cano has so far declined to request relief from Abbott’s mask mandate as allowed in the governor’s order.
From July 1-31, Brewster County reported 86 unemployment claims.