The Texas governor announced on Tuesday that the statewide mask mandate will be coming down next week, but masks could still be required in some places at the local level.
On Tuesday, Killeen city spokeswoman Hilary Shine said that the mask mandate made by Mayor Jose Segarra last year had been superseded by the governor’s order in July.
“The Governor’s order removes the statewide mask requirement and capacity restrictions but allows for each business to determine what practices they wish to employ,” Shine said by email on Tuesday.
Segarra said that at this point it will be mainly on a voluntary basis, for businesses and individuals.
“As of right now I will follow the governor’s order,” he said. “For people who want to wear masks, by all means they can.”
Copperas Cove Independent School District spokeswoman Wendy Sledd said Tuesday district officials will meet early Wednesday to discuss the outgoing statewide mask mandate and the district’s plan going forward.
Killeen Independent School District spokeswoman Taina Maya said Tuesday the district would not be changing its current public health guide, which requires staff and students to wear masks.
“At this time, Killeen ISD will not make any changes to the Public Health Guide, including our COVID-19 face covering mitigation protocols, until we receive further guidance from the Texas Education Agency,” Maya said.
Killeen Educators Association President Rick Beaulé, which represents some 650 KISD employees, issued a statement Tuesday about the governor’s mask mandate retraction.
“We note with dismay the Governor’s proclamation repealing the mask mandate,” Beaulé wrote. “We further note the CDC recommendation is still to wear a mask. We fail to see how the Governor feels that the same common sense precautions that guided other nations to lead the world in vaccinations is somehow reason to eliminate safety protocols here. These are the same protocols that have allowed us to get to the paltry 6.5% vaccination totals Texas has managed to accomplish.”
Beaulé described the governor’s actions as both “foolhardy” and “against science.”
“With recent studies showing educators play a larger role than previously thought in the spread of COVID, priority vaccinations for them are now even more vital than ever,” he said. “We urge everyone to continue to wear a mask, whether mandatory or not. We also call on Killeen ISD to preserve their mask mandate as is still strongly recommended by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Education.”
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will end Texas' statewide mask mandate next week and will allow all businesses to operate at full capacity, The Texas Tribune reported.
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said from a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock, arguing that Texas has fought the coronavirus pandemic to the point that “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate” any longer.
Abbott said he was rescinding “most of the earlier executive orders” he has issued over the past year to stem the spread of the virus. He said starting March 10, “all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%” and masks will no longer be required in public." The mask requirement has been in effect since last summer.