Paxton Issues Legal Guidance on School Reopening
Politicians and playing politics in our local school districts has threatened some schools not to reopen in 2020.
However, deaths from student suicides and drug overdoses currently exceed deaths due to the COVID-19 virus, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Robert Redfield warned.
Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued guidance on the opening of local schools for the upcoming school year, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, responding to a request from Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien.
While playing an important role in protecting the health of school children and employees, local health authorities may not issue sweeping orders closing schools for the sole purpose of preventing future COVID-19 infections.
Rather, their role is limited by statute to addressing specific, actual outbreaks of disease. School officials, both public and private, are the appropriate ones to decide whether, when, and how to open school.
“Education of our children is an essential Texas value and there is no current statewide order prohibiting any school from opening,” said Attorney General Paxton. “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.”
In Kendall County, the Boerne ISD offered families a choice of either In-Person or E-Learning.
Overall, 78% of the families selected In-Person Learning, while 22% chose E-Learning.
“I think that the cost to our nation in continuing to keep these schools closed is substantial, and I’m hopeful that resources that are necessary can be made available,” Redfield said. “But there has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools.”
“We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID,” he lamented. “We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”
Redfield went on to stress that this is why health must be viewed in light of the “overall social being of individuals,” which in this instance, he argued required working to “get these schools open in a way that people are comfortable and they’re safe.”
Many have argued that the mental and emotional health risks of prolonged isolation would be as dangerous or more dangerous than the coronavirus itself in many cases, particularly among the young, for whom COVID-19 is less dangerous than for the elderly or immunocompromised.