Another petition has emerged asking Gov. Greg Abbott to reverse the ban on mask mandates for public schools and allow campuses to make their own policies.
"We are families and citizens who are concerned about our children's lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic," begins the petition, addressed to both the governor and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath.
The petition cites the rising positivity rate in Texas amid the spread of the delta variant. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health describes the positivity rate as the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive. A higher positivity rate suggests higher transmission and that it's not the time to relax restrictions aimed at reducing the spread.
Abbott issued an executive order in May prohibiting government entities in Texas, including school districts, from requiring or mandating mask wearing. Public schools were allowed to continue mask-wearing guidelines, but only through June 4.
The petition warns that sending children back to school without measures such as masking could lead to an increased higher positivity rate, higher hospitalization rates and more deaths.
It also points to recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending universal masking for everyone, including staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, especially because children under 12 aren't yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"The best way to protect our children, teachers, and staff is by masking," the petition continues. "Merely encouraging masking or urging "personal responsibility" is insufficient as there will surely be plenty of kids and adults who will choose to not mask, putting their fellow community members, including the immunocompromised, at risk."
The petition will be submitted Monday, Aug. 9, but that's not the only one circulating.
Earlier this week, concerned parents with young students in Fort Bend County schools started a petition, asking that there be a virtual option for students in kindergarten through sixth grade for the upcoming school year.