The order, issued on Thursday afternoon, states all public and non-religious private schools along with licensed child care centers must follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the use of masks.
This means students ages 2 or older along with staff, teachers and visitors must wear a mask indoors while on campuses and on buses, regardless of vaccination status.
"Please note that face coverings are a secondary strategy to getting vaccinated and should be undertaken with other mitigation efforts," read the order. "Face coverings are not a replacement for vaccinations or for those who cannot get vaccinated due to age or disability, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and self-isolation when sick."
Houston ISD, the largest school district in Texas, falls under the order.
With schools back in session, the Harris County Local Health Authority is implementing the use of facemasks on all public and non-religious private schools to protect the health of students and their families. Read more about it here: https://t.co/LfxE14z7Sm pic.twitter.com/VH4WbFJcK2— Harris County Public Health #GetVaxxed (@hcphtx) August 13, 2021
On Tuesday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo shared the commissioner's court had the county attorney file the lawsuit challenging Abbott's GA-38 executive order. Abbott's order prevents local Texas governments from requiring masks.
"First responders and school leaders are speaking out and standing up as Delta ravages our community. We have their back," Hidalgo wrote on Twitter. "Protecting the community during an emergency is a duty, not an option for government leaders."
NEW: We just authorized the Harris County Attorney to file a lawsuit challenging GA-38, the order that prevents Texas local governments from requiring masks. First responders and school leaders are speaking out and standing up as Delta ravages our community. We have their back.— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) August 11, 2021
Despite COVID cases rising again, Abbott has said he will not impose another statewide mandate.
It would be "inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask," Abbott said.
Abbott lifted the statewide mask requirement in March. Two months later, he announced he was banning government entities - including public schools - from mandating masks. Abbott reiterated that Texas schoolchildren will not face mask requirements as they return to school later this summer.
Both Austin ISD and Dallas ISD are going against Abbott's ban on mask mandates.