The Texas Tribune reports:
Local health officials do not have the authority to shut down all schools in their vicinity while COVID-19 cases rise, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in nonbinding guidance Tuesday that contradicts what the Texas Education Agency has told school officials.
After Texas ordered schools to reopen their classrooms this fall, county and city public health officials began to push back, ordering all public and private schools in their areas to stay closed through August and in some cases September. The officials cited a state law giving health officials authority to control communicable diseases.
But Paxton said in the letter that “nothing in the law gives health authorities the power to indiscriminately close schools — public or private — as these local orders claim to do. … It does not allow health authorities to issue blanket quarantine orders that are inconsistent with the law.”
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. https://t.co/jYI6qZRY57
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) July 28, 2020
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s guidance Tuesday says schools cannot be closed “for purely prophylactic reasons.” https://t.co/KS3goDtuJ5
— KBTX News (@KBTXNews) July 28, 2020