Texas temporarily drops enforcement of ban on mask mandates

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The Texas Education Agency said in new guidance Thursday that it will temporarily stop enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on public school districts imposing mask mandates, citing ongoing litigation.

Driving the news: The guidance came the same day that the Texas Supreme Court declined to uphold the mask ban over a technicality, sending the case down to an appeals court.

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Why it matters: Public schools can now, for the time being, require students to wear masks as the Delta variant continues to drive a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

  • The new guidance will also require schools to report positive COVID-19 tests to their local health department, the state health department and all teachers, family and staff who share a classroom or space with the infected person.

  • More than 80,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Texas. Abbott himself has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently being treated with the Regeneron antibody cocktail that former President Trump received.

  • Seven counties and 48 school districts had already defied Abbott's mask ban as lawsuits have made their way through the state's court system, according to AP.

Go deeper: Texas requests mortuary trailers, expecting a surge in COVID-19 deaths

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