On June 4, El Paso schools are no longer required to enforce people to wear a mask on school grounds. On top of that, the number of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine is high but children under 12 are not allowed to get the vaccine. Could these two factors lead to a spread of the coronavirus in El Paso?
El Paso has 93 public schools with about 58,326 students.
Texas Governor Abbott lifted the mask requirement in Executive Order (GA-34) in March, 2021. This allowed businesses to reopen and not enforce people to wear a mask. They have the option to wear a mask.
Schools were given a later date to wear masks and June 4 is the first day when people on school grounds can decide not to wear a mask.
“Shocked, I guess, was the first thought that came to mind,” said Patricia Amezaga, who teaches 7th grade physical education in the El Paso Independent School District.
“We have just now started vaccinating kids this age. I teach middle school, so kids this age are just now getting the opportunity to get their vaccine and we don’t even know how many kids are going to get vaccinated,” said Amezaga.
She said that while the school year is coming to an end, she still will have two-and-a-half weeks with her students after June 4.
“I want to get rid of my mask too, but when the time is right and I know that every kid, or most every kid, will come in here without a mask come June the 4,” said Amezaga.
The confusing part is children under the age of 12 cannot receive the vaccine. Only recently children between the ages of 12 to 15 were allowed to get vaccinated.
In spite of the order, El Paso schools are recommended on school grounds to wear a mask and prevent the spread of the virus.
“We will continue to enforce a mask requirement until June 4. After that, based on our understanding of the governor’s orders, we will encourage students, staff, and visitors to use a face mask while on District facilities,” Gustavo Reveles, a spokesperson for EPISD, wrote in an email.
The El Paso President of the PTA encourages students to receive the vaccine.
“It’s very concerning that children between those ages have not gone and received the vaccine yet and you know I think a lot of that has to do with the parent’s decision,” said Norma De La Rosa, EPTA president.
Some parents are giving the choice to their teenage children to make their own decision.
An El Paso father, Shawn Hudson, who’s a father of four, let his 16-year old daughter decide to get the vaccine or not.
The El Paso Interim Superintendent, Vince Sheffield, providing the following statement:
As our school year comes to an end, I would like to take this time to express my deep appreciation to each one of you for making not only our students’ education, but also the health, welfare and safety of our students, staff and the EPISD community your top priority during one of the most challenging times in recent history.
In accordance with Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s executive order issued on May 18, 2021, El Paso ISD no longer will require students, employees or visitors to wear face masks, shields or other coverings after June 4, 2021. At that time, anyone who wishes to continue the practice of wearing such items is free to do so.
The District, however, will continue with other COVID-19 mitigation efforts already in place, such as temperature checks of students and staff, limiting visitors, and daily disinfection of classrooms and District facilities. Additionally, the District will continue to facilitate vaccination clinics at several District locations. COVID-19 vaccines are available for all staff and students ages 12 and older. You may register for the vaccine here.
We appreciate the continued cooperation and collaboration of the EPISD community in keeping everyone safe and healthy. We will continue to work closely with local and state health authorities and the Texas Education Agency regarding protocols for summer and next school year.