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San Antonio and Bexar County win court victory over governor, upholding school mask mandates


Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press event. - COURTESY PHOTO / TEXAS GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy Photo / Texas Governor's Office
  • Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press event.
A Bexar County district judge has ruled that San Antonio and Bexar County can, at least for now, maintain mask mandates despite an order by Gov. Greg Abbott seeking to block local entities from enacting such requirements.

Judge Antonia Arteaga on Monday afternoon issued a temporary injunction allowing the city and county to continue requiring masks in public schools and municipal buildings.

Arteaga issued the ruling as school restarts amid a COVID-19 wave that's led to a 400% spike in Texans hospitalized for the virus over the past month. Children under 12 are still unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"My thoughts continue to be with those children in our schools who don't have access to the vaccine but must attend school, coupled with the dire situation right here in Bexar County hospitals and where we currently find ourselves," Arteaga said.

She added that local officials met the burden of proof in a full evidentiary hearing.

The decision is all but certain to be appealed.

San Antonio and Bexar County are among the several municipalities and school districts who sued Abbott, a Republican, after he handed down an order blocking local officials from requiring masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

City and county officials argued that while the governor has wide authority to issue orders during disasters, he shouldn't be able to prevent local officials from protecting their own citizens during times of crisis.

The legal tussle has resembled a game of ping pong.

Last week, Arteaga granted a temporary restraining order to the city and county against Abbott's order and the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio subsequently rejected the state's appeal. Then, on Sunday, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court handed Abbott a victory, blocking the mask mandate until Arteaga could hold Monday's hearing.

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