Two weeks ago Texas Governor Greg Abbott made it completely clear that he wasn't going to allow governmental agencies impose mask mandates. School districts were included in that order from the governor's office but last week, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego wrote a letter outlining why they thought that El Paso school districts should be allowed to impose a mask mandate. They cited the huge numbers we had last fall and the fact that kids under 12 can't get vaccinated as just a couple of the reasons why we need a mask mandate in schools.

As expected Abbott said he would not allow El Paso school districts to impose a mask mandate. Fast forward to the end of the first week of school for the El Paso, Ysleta, and Socorro school districts and the reports of 39 positive cases of the coronavirus. The breakdown is 13 cases among staff in the El Paso school district, five positive cases of COVID-19 among students and one staff member in the Socorro district, and YISD reporting 15 positive cases in students and two in staff members for this week alone.

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The chair of emergency medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso told a local news station, "There’s an excellent chance that schools are gonna be the place where covid delta spreads rapidly. If there are unvaccinated, vulnerable adults at home, that’s where I see the big risk.” Samaniego says he is worried that in two more weeks there will be a lot more kids who are "sick with sniffles and cold.”

Local school districts say they are going to socially distance and continue deep cleaning and disinfecting their facilities. Even though the Abbott order doesn't require it, locally school districts say they will contact trace any COVID1-19 positive tests and inform employees and parents on the specific campus. Students or employees who test positive will quarantine at home. We're still not through this pandemic. We should keep wearing masks and hopefully Abbott won't wait until it's too late before he allows a mask mandate.

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