Says COVID response must be based on public health, not politics

DALLAS—State Senator Royce West on Wednesday decried the state’s rush to force students and teachers back into Texas classrooms amid spikes in COVID-19 cases and an increasing number of children being impacted by the disease.

“Yesterday, Attorney General Paxton offered guidance that indicated local schools may not shut down based upon guidance from local health authorities. TEA promptly followed that with guidance saying that if schools shut down because of such orders, they will not receive state funding for that period,” West said.

“This is not the procedure we should be following to reopen Texas schools,” West said.

West also questioned the nature of the guidance Paxton issued.

“General Paxton, in a letter to the mayor of Stephenville concerning school reopening, which his office has linked to as its ‘guidance’ to Texas schools, uses twisted logic and reasoning to say that the Governor’s Executive Orders don’t apply to public schools. While the AG has the authority to draft an opinion when asked, I’m unaware of any law giving General Paxton the ability to turn such a response into sweeping guidance for all Texas schools,” West said.

“We should not be turning our back on the guidance from local health authorities. Local health authorities are best suited to know when a spike indicates that local schools should stop in-person learning,” West continued.

West also said that the state’s attempts to tie state education dollars to physically reopening classrooms was completely misguided.