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Texas AG: Local health authorities can’t issue sweeping orders closing schools

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

(The Center Square) – Attorney General Ken Paxton said local health officials cannot issue sweeping orders that close schools in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

After received a request for guidance from Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien, Paxton issued the opinion on Tuesday.

“Education of our children is an essential Texas value and there is no current statewide order prohibiting any school from opening,” Paxton said in a statement. “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.”

The opinion comes after a group of parents and Christian schools operators filed suit against Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff; C. Junda Woo, medical director of the Local Health Authority for Bexar County and the city of San Antonio; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and others over a local order barring public and private schools from holding in-person classes until after Labor Day.

Paxton guidance said public and private school officials hold the power to decide when and how to open for the fall semester.

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