Texas AG says local health authorities may not issue school orders

Texas AG says local health authorities may not issue school orders
El Fiscal General de Texas, Ken Paxton, habla en la Convención de la Federación de Mujeres Republicanas de Texas en Dallas el 19 de octubre de 2017. (Source: Laura Buckman para The Texas Tribune)

From the Texas Attorney General’s Office

AUSTIN, Texas (News Release) - Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued guidance on the opening of local schools for the upcoming school year, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, responding to a request from Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien. While playing an important role in protecting the health of school children and employees, local health authorities may not issue sweeping orders closing schools for the sole purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections. Rather, their role is limited by statute to addressing specific, actual outbreaks of disease. School officials, both public and private, are the appropriate ones to decide whether, when, and how to open school.

“Education of our children is an essential Texas value and there is no current statewide order prohibiting any school from opening,” said Attorney General Paxton. “While local health authorities may possess some authority to close schools in limited circumstances, they may not issue blanket orders closing all schools on a purely preventative basis. That decision rightfully remains with school system leaders.”