Texas Supreme Court temporarily sides with Abbott on Bexar County mask mandates

Update 2:30 p.m.: District Attorney Joe Gonzales announced the county will follow current Texas Education Agency guidance on mask mandates which states that the masking provisions of Governor Greg Abbott’s July 29 executive order are not being enforced over ongoing litigation.

“At this time, my office will defer to this guidance issued by TEA, and no prosecutions of school district officials within my jurisdiction as Bexar County District Attorney will occur as a result of those issuing mask mandates. I understand that this litigation has been confusing for public officials, administrators and, most importantly, the public,” Gonzales said. “Rest assured that we are working tirelessly to protect those who cannot protect themselves. I continue to urge those who are eligible for a COVID vaccine and/or a booster to get vaccinated and to continue to wear a mask to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also released a statement:

“We’re disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today. I support the position of the District Attorney and thank him for all of his hard work and, most importantly, for his commitment to protecting the health and safety of our most vulnerable population. I also hope that our school districts will continue to put our children and our educators first during this time and continue with their masking protocols.”

Original story: 

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The Texas Supreme Court has sided with Governor Greg Abbott in the latest in the fight against San Antonio’s mask mandate in government buildings and in schools.

Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the high court’s decision to grant the emergency motion Thursday morning.

“The Texas Supreme Court has sided with the law, and the decision to enforce mask mandates lies with the governor’s legislatively-granted authority,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Mask mandates across our state are illegal, and judges must abide by the law. Further non-compliance will result in more lawsuits.”

The order states the status quo regarding pandemic procedures has been in the hands of the governor and therefore should remain so “while the court of appeals, and potentially this Court,” continue to deliberate on the matter.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg made a statement to KENS5:

“I support continuing the mask requirement for city employees and facilities. I also hope and expect school districts will stay the course and continue with their mask requirements. Confusion is the enemy of emergency response, and the governor is excelling at it. Mask up. Get vaccinated. Protect yourself and those around you. It’s as simple as that.”

Nirenberg also took to Twitter with the succint message: “We’re not going to let an ongoing court battle distract us from the real fight against COVID-19. Get the vax. Wear a mask.”

“While I am personally disappointed in the order handed down today by the Texas Supreme Court, I will continue to do all that I can to fight for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Bexar County,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said. “We are continuing to work with the City of San Antonio to determine the next steps in light of the order issued today.”

San Antonio and Bexar County filed a lawsuit August 10 to prevent the State from enforcing a July 29 executive order that bans mask and vaccine mandates related to COVID-19.

After Bexar County courts ruled in favor of the city and county, Metro Health enacted a mask mandate for local government buildings and for schools in Bexar County.

Multiple school districts including San Antonio, Northside and Northeast ISD have implemented their own masking policies. Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD voted last night to not implement a mask mandate after a four-hour-long school board meeting.

SAISD is embroiled in their own legal battle against the state over an employee vaccine mandate.


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