HOUSTON - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said local health officials don’t have the authority to close down all schools, simply to prevent COVID-19. Paxton’s statement comes as schools inch closer to reopening in less than two weeks.
Several parents at Conroe ISD says they’re rallying for their kids to go back to in-person classes sooner. Currently, the district has delayed in-person classes until at least September 8th.
"We need our kids around other children. We will adapt to this. We will get stronger. We will build antibodies but come on, can we hide for the rest of our lives?" said Dr. Ashley Prince.
A group of moms from Conroe ISD stood outside the Montgomery County Hospital District’s building Tuesday. Their entry was apparently denied due to capacity restrictions.
The moms were hoping to attend the board meeting and urge officials to let their kids have the option of going back to school in-person, come August 12.
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"I think everybody should be able to make their own choice. If you don’t feel comfortable and you want to do it online, stay at home and let your child do it online," said Kathy Croon.
Lori Gasca claims that the majority of parents in the district voted to return to in-person classes, but says their voices were not heard in the end.
"Mine says 'Majority rules = Democracy.' Majority did not rule. They did not listen to what we had to say. We took a 25-75% vote and they went with the minority," said Gasca.
On Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued legal guidance.
“Education of our children is an essential Texas value and there is no current statewide order prohibiting any school from opening. While local health authorities may possess some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they may not issue blanket orders closing all schools on a purely preventative basis. That decision rightfully remains with school system leaders," Paxton said.
"It is unfortunate that this is the way that our state is responding to a pandemic. We have people like can Paxton that will do backflips to override the best advice medical professionals are giving about how to control a pandemic," said Zeph Capo, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Capo said while he understands the frustration of parents and students eager to return to a normal school year, he said Paxton's statement disregards the health and safety of school employees.
"Unfortunately, I don't think that this opinion really has any legal standing certainly doesn't have any courts. I understand this is an uncomfortable situation for all of us. It's very inconvenient. It's not what any of us want teachers would rather be back in the classroom. It's more work to do things this way. But they would rather be safe. They would rather continue to live without being hospitalized," Capo said.