Fort Bend County Judge KP George issued a mask mandate for all employees and visitors to county facilities effective 12:01 a.m. Aug. 13.
This comes after District Judge O’Neil Williams signed a temporary restraining order, which George’s office said suspends Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that bans local governmental entities from imposing a mask mandate.
George, along with state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, have taken to social media to call on Fort Bend ISD and other local school districts to implement mask orders.
On Aug. 12, Fort Bend County Health Authority Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter sent a letter to superintendents in Fort Bend County recommending they take a series of actions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing.
In an email, George’s office said the guidance from Johnson-Minter, who is also the director of Fort Bend County Health & Human Services, is a “guideline for the schools to follow.”
“In order to mitigate the risks associated with the significant and sustained transmission of COVID-19 in Fort Bend County, it is now necessary that all students over the age of 2 years old, educators and school staff, and all visitors to school campuses and district facilities, wear face coverings while indoors or while in proximity closer than 3 feet where possible,” the letter reads in part.
In an Aug. 12 message to the Fort Bend ISD community, the district said the county’s actions and guidance from the health department are recommendations and that wearing a mask in schools was not ordered.
“After consulting with our legal counsel to ensure our mitigation efforts are within the confines of the law, the district continues to highly encourage wearing masks, and doing so remains optional,” it said in the message. “The district continues to monitor the latest legal developments while carefully watching internal COVID-19 data and reinforcing our COVID[-19] mitigation protocols.”
George announced Aug. 11 that county facilities and public schools in the district would be included in the mask mandate. George's order is in effect through Sept. 30.
Read the letter from Johnson-Minter to area schools and George's order below.