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Port Arthur education leaders react to governor ending mask-wearing mandates

Lamar State College Port Arthur is lifting its on-campus mask mandate.

This impacts students, faculty, staff and friends.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that prohibits governmental entities, including institutions of higher education, from mandating the use of face coverings.

In light of Abbott’s order, Lamar State is no longer requiring the use of a face covering on campus by its students, faculty, staff or visitors.

This protocol change takes effect immediately.

Governmental entities in Texas cannot mandate mask wearing after June 4.

This includes counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities and government officials.

Governor Greg Abbott made the declaration Tuesday through an Executive Order.

Public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4.

After June 4, no student, teacher, parent or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus.

Beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the Executive Order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

“The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities,” Abbott said.

“Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up.”

Exempt from the Executive Order are state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities and county and municipal jails.

PAISD Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie said local efforts to keep students and staff safe by implementing COVID-19 practices such as mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and temperature checks were successful.

“Port Arthur ISD will continue with the required mask-wearing mandate through June 4,” Porterie said. “Students, staff and visitors that choose to continue to wear a mask, may do so. We will continue to implement our district’s COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing and temperature checks.

“We encourage our parents and students, ages 12 and older, to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Port Arthur Health Department has vaccines available and the Gulf Coast Health Center will provide vaccines to our secondary students and their parents next week.”

Lamar State College Port Arthur also announced due to the potential for additional flooding rain in Southeast Texas, it will close its campus on Wednesday (May 19).

The National Weather Service is predicting another round of heavy rain and thunderstorms late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.

Out of an abundance of caution, LSCPA is closing the campus to allow employees to work remotely from home, if possible.

Plans are to reopen the campus for business as usual at 7:30 a.m. Thursday (May 20).