Texas Supreme Court temporarily denies governor’s attempt to reinstate a ban on mask mandates in schools

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday denied a petition from Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that aimed to reinstate a ban on mask mandates in schools. The decision, which is temporary, comes amid a bitter battle between Abbott and local leaders over control of school masking policy. 

In May, Abbott issued an executive order that barred public schools and most other government entities from imposing mask mandates. Abbott has stood by the order, despite it being met with pushback from schools and even from President Biden, who called the ban “bad health policy.” 

Last week, Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer granted a series of temporary restraining orders against Abbott’s ban, which allowed several school districts to impose face mask mandates, according to CBS Austin. 

In response, Paxton appealed the order. On Monday, his office said in a statement that he “will sue every single local entity and local official” who violates Abbott’s order. “And if they continue to disobey, I will pursue additional legal sanctions,” he added.

The Texas Supreme Court did not rule on the substance of Abbott and Paxton’s request; instead, it cited a provision that requires cases be brought before an appellate court before they are decided by the state’s Supreme Court “unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.” 

The Texas Education Agency also said Thursday that it would not enforce Abbott’s mask mandate ban in public schools, citing the ongoing legal battles. In it’s updated guidance, the agency said school districts must now notify staff and the student families of COVID-19 cases, as well as continue to investigate and report cases to their local health departments. 

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