EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, imploring him to allow local school districts the authority to implement face mask mandates if they so choose.
In the letter, the pair said local districts should be able "to decide face mask requirements based on local needs to protect the youngest among us."
Lesser and Samaniego said the need for such decision-making to occur at the local level was "urgent" given that the "very contagious Delta variant is among us." El Paso recently confirmed three cases of that variant.
The El Paso leaders cited recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidance recommending mask wearing in schools in their request to the governor. The CDC "has placed schools as areas of high risk of Covid-19 transmission," the pair wrote, adding that with children under 12 unable to currently receive the vaccine, face masks seemed a reasonable protection option.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Texas Medical Association have also endorsed the wearing of masks by school children, teachers and staff. But Abbott has stood firm in recent times on his statewide order banning schools from requiring masks.
Lesser and Samaniego indicated their request had the overwhelming support of El Paso-area educators.
There was no immediate response from the governor's office to the letter, which you can read below in its entirety.