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Texas Says Schools Can't Enforce Mask Mandates. What Does That Mean For Unvaccinated Students As Coronavirus Cases Surge?

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High school students wear masks inside a classroom.
High school students wear masks inside a classroom.

As teachers and students prepare to return to in-person learning, many are concerned about the pandemic risks and best practices for children in Texas schools.

State leadership have prohibited mask-wearing enforcement, even for students who are too young to get vaccinated amid a surge in new cases and hospitalizations attributable to the more contagious delta variant.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the U.S. is "going in the wrong direction" as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, particularly among unvaccinated Americans.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommend everyone in K-12 schools wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status. New guidance issued Tuesday also advises those who are vaccinated mask up again if they're living or working in COVID-19 hot spots.

What precautions should schools take to ensure the safety of their students and teachers for in-person learning?

What's at risk if no safety measures are taken in Texas schools? Could we see a rise in coronavirus cases in children? What are the protocols for students who do get infected, their classmates and their teachers?

A group of 32 Texas House representatives penned a letter to Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency urging them to allow districts to offer fully-funded virtual learning and enforce mask-wearing in Texas schools.

Will Texas change its policy if case numbers continue to increase? Are there other factors that should be considered?

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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 28.