For Immediate Release: 03/03/21
Pastors for Texas Children’s Statement on
Governor Greg Abbott’s Decision To Lift the Mask Order
Contact: Cameron Vickrey
Pastors for Texas Children
FORT WORTH (March 3, 2021) Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to lift the statewide mask order unnecessarily burdens our 5.5 million schoolchildren and the dedicated Texas educators who serve them.
Our 1200 school superintendents, and over 800,000 public school employees-- including the 360,000 public schoolteachers who work heroically to keep our children educated during our current pandemic crisis-- are thrown into disarray by this decision.
Lifting the mask order, especially with no clear guidelines from the Texas Education Association, now makes the already near-impossible job of our educators even exponentially harder.
Governor Abbott’s failure to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccine for public schoolteachers and staff is a dangerous affront to these front-line first responders. Over 47,000 of our fellow Texans have died from COVID, a tragic, disproportionately high percentage.
The governor continues to delay a “hold harmless” decision that exempts our children from education funding penalty due to low pandemic attendance. This delay leaves our schools, teachers, and children in confusion as educators struggle to plan their 2021-2022 budgets. Why?
The governor continues to delay disbursement of $5.5 billion dollars of federal COVID-19 relief money appropriated for public education. Why?
The governor continues to insist on the in-person standardized test during our current crisis when educators overwhelmingly reject the test as traumatizing to children, stressful to parents, and demoralizing to teachers. Why?
We call on Governor Abbott to ensure the vaccination of our public schoolteachers and staff immediately so that our schools can re-open safely. Every day of delay is harming millions of children, particularly our poorest children, who depend on their neighborhood schools for essential safety and provision.
We take no pleasure in reminding our fellow Texans that we face a profound moral as well as health crisis in our great state. When we deny our most vulnerable citizens—our children—their God-given right to a quality education, choosing to prioritize politics over their needs, during a raging pandemic, we need a new set of values.
We pray Governor Abbott lay politics aside and do his sworn constitutional duty before God to “make suitable provision for the operation and maintenance of public free schools,” as Article 7, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution clearly states.
About: Pastors for Texas Children mobilizes faith leaders and faith communities for public education support and advocacy.
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson is Executive Director of Pastors for Texas Children.