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Texas Supreme Court temporarily halts mask orders, but San Antonio will still require them in schools 

click to enlarge Masked students line up to register this week at NISD's Holmes High School. - TWITTER / @NISD
  • Twitter / @NISD
  • Masked students line up to register this week at NISD's Holmes High School.
In the latest turn in the ongoing COVID-19 showdown between Gov. Greg Abbott and the state's large municipalities, the Texas Supreme Court on Sunday temporarily blocked mask mandates in Bexar and Dallas Counties. 

The all-Republican court's ruling came after some school districts and counties around the state defied Abbott's executive order banning local entities from requiring masks.

On Friday, the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio upheld a lower court's issue of a temporary restraining order that stopped Abbott from preventing Bexar County school districts from mandating masks for students and staff.

That temporary restraining order was already set to expire with a Monday hearing by a state district judge in Bexar County to determine whether the Republican governor can legally stop the city and county from instituting local measures to contain COVID-19. As such, San Antonio officials said the Texas Supreme Court ruling has "little practical effect."

Bexar County Health Authority Dr. Junda Woo’s directive requiring masks in public schools remains in effect, according to city officials. So does a rule requiring face coverings inside city buildings.

“The City of San Antonio and Bexar County’s response to the Texas Supreme Court continues to emphasize that the Governor cannot use his emergency powers to suspend laws that provide local entities the needed flexibility to act in an emergency,” city attorney Andy Segovia said in an emailed statement. “His suspension authority is meant to facilitate action, not prohibit it.”

The Supreme Court didn't rule on Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Petition for Writ of Mandamus, which would have blocked the city and county from moving forward on their case.

That didn't stop Paxton from declaring victory in a Sunday tweet. "“Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands,” he said.

Stay tuned for Monday's ruling — and the appeal that will almost certainly follow.

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