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San Antonio disagrees with state leaders on school authority; new health directive coming

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio illuminated at dusk with Tower life building (Getty Images)

BEXAR COUNTY, Tex. (KTSA News) — The City of San Antonio said Friday it disagrees with state leaders’ interpretation of health authority statutes when it comes to who can allow schools to reopen this fall.

“The City of San Antonio continues to disagree with the Attorney General and Governor’s legal analysis of the Texas Health and Safety Code,” the City of San Antonio said in a statement.

The city said local health authorities — which in San Antonio and Bexar County would be San Antonio Metro Health — have local health authority powers beyond quarantine.  Specifically, it said that power would be to institute preventative measures.  Practically, that would mean it would have the power to limit occupation of schools in the name of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

State leaders — including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, state education leaders, among others — all backed a legal opinion issued Tuesday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton saying only school districts have the power to decide whether they open or close.

In Texas, school districts operate separately from city or county governments as independent school districts.

The city said Metro Health will be issuing an amended health directive late next week in an effort to provide clarity to parents, teachers, and school staff.  The update will come after it gets input from other health experts and school stakeholders.

The new directive from Metro Health, according to the city, will include guidelines for school systems to rely on when they decide to allow students into classrooms.

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