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COVID-19

Mask Mandates In Austin Will Stand, At Least Temporarily

Students wearing masks work at their desks on the first day of school at Travis High School on Tuesday.
Jordan Vonderhaar
/
KUT
Students wearing masks work at their desks on the first day of school at Travis High School on Tuesday.

The Texas Supreme Court denied a request from Attorney General Ken Paxton to undo a Travis County judge's temporary restraining orders that allow some counties and school districts to have mask mandates.

In its ruling Thursday, the court said Paxton did not have a compelling reason to bypass the appeals process and go straight to the high court.

"That may be only a temporary reprieve for Austin; the state can now ask the Austin-based court of appeals for the same relief and go back to the Supreme Court if they lose," UT law professor Steven Vladeck told KUT. "But it’s a reprieve nonetheless."

Last week, Harris County, the Southern Center for Child Advocacy and a coalition of South Texas school districts, along with a group of parents in Travis County, sued the governor in Travis County district court over his executive order that bans mask mandates. Judge Jan Soifer granted them restraining orders, which allowed mask requirements to stay in place while the cases are heard.

Local governments and school districts across Texas have been defying the governor's order, citing soaring rates of COVID cases and hospitalizations due to the delta variant. ICU capacity in many hospitals has also reached dangerously low levels.

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