HOUSTON - Governor Greg Abbott reiterated on Wednesday that he will not issue another mask mandate for Texas.
His announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge, including the hyper-contagious Delta variant.
"We’re past the time of government mandates. We’re into the time of personal responsibility and that’s exactly what we will do," said Abbott during a news conference in Houston.
Back in May, Abbott banned government entities including public schools from requiring masks.
"I think that it is very premature and for him to say that," said Michelle Williams, a teacher at Houston ISD.
With less than a month until teachers like Michelle Williams return to the classroom for full-time, in-person learning, some worry the new school year won’t be any different than the last.
"My biggest concern right now is the whole political atmosphere that we're in. With the midterm election on the horizon next year, teachers and educators are being used as political pawns and that's the, you know, nicest way I can actually put it. We're being thrown under the bus," Williams said.
Although masks can’t be mandated, organizations like the Houston Federation of Teachers, strongly recommend teachers and students prioritize their health and safety.
"I’ve had some teachers say to me that they are going to wear their masks. They're going to send their own personal children to school with masks and I hope that HISD does encourage masks. We are encouraging our members to wear a mask, and, in fact, we are giving out thousands of masks to our members and asking them to wear them," said Jackie Anderson, the President of the Houston Federation of Teachers.
Currently, students under the age of 12 are still not eligible for the vaccine in Texas.
The majority of schools, like HISD, will return to full-time, in-person learning for the upcoming school year and the virtual option will be eliminated.