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Austin And Travis County Extend Mask Mandate To Public Colleges

Students, staff and visitors to Austin Community College are now required to wear masks indoors.
Austin Community College
Students, staff and visitors to Austin Community College are now required to wear masks indoors.

Austin and Travis County are adding public colleges to their list of locations where masking is required.

City and county officials signed orders Wednesday mandating people over the age of 2 wear masks in city and county buildings and in public schools. On Friday, they amended the orders to include public colleges, such as Austin Community College. The requirement doesn't apply to colleges on state property, like UT Austin, a spokesperson for the city and county said.

“Students, staff, and visitors over the age of two are REQUIRED to wear a face covering while on school property or school buses during Stages 3, 4, and 5 as set forth in Austin Public Health’s Risk-Based Chart,” the order now states. “This includes all public schools, including public charter schools and public colleges in the City of Austin and Travis County.”

This goes into effect immediately. Shortly after the announcement, the Austin Community College board of trustees voted to adopt a mask mandate in all campus buildings.

Austin has been in Stage 5 of Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines since last week.

The local mask mandates defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s order prohibiting the state, local governments and school districts from requiring people to wear masks. Over the past week, several counties and school districts have chosen to go against Abbott’s order as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

The four most populated counties in the state — Travis, Harris, Bexar and Dallas — have all mandated mask-wearing in public schools. Austin ISD announced its mandate Monday. Thursday night, the San Marcos Consolidated ISD school board voted to implement a mask mandate, as did Del Valle ISD.

Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have vowed to take local government officials and school districts that violate the governor’s executive order to court. Some counties, including Bexar and Dallas, have sued Abbott for the right to mandate masks and gotten temporary victories.

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