It's a firm "No" from Governor Abbott as he declines to allow schools to mandate masks for the upcoming school semester.

With COVID-19 cases rising in Central Texas, and across the country, The Texas State Teachers Association is asking Governor Abbott to allow school districts to require masks once again, but Abbott remains dug in on his refusal to mandate masks.

Ovidia Molina, Texas State Teachers Association President, issued the following statement:

"The Texas State Teachers Association calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to withdraw his prohibition on mask mandates and allow individual school districts to require mask use in their facilities if local officials believe masks will help protect the health of their communities as schools reopen for the fall semester.

Educators are eager to return to the classroom, but the pandemic is still dangerous. With COVID-19 cases increasing again and many people still unvaccinated, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that everyone older than 2 wear a mask when they go back to school. Children younger than 12 have not yet been approved for the COVID vaccine.

If Gov. Abbott really cares about the health and safety of Texas students, educators and their communities, he will give local school officials and health experts the option of requiring masks in their schools."

Gov. Abbotts Press Secretary, Renae Eze, responded to the request reminding Molina that Gov. Abbotts stance is clear, "the time for government mandating of masks is over – now is the time for personal responsibility."

The Governors office believes that Texans have the right to choose if they want to wear a mask or have their children wear a mask.

It's Time to 'Stuff the Bus' for Central Texas Students

The new school year is just around the corner, and Central Texas students will face unique challenges as we put the pandemic behind us and look to the future.

One challenge no child should face is being without the essential school supplies they'll need to live up to their potential and achieve academic success.

That's where you and I come in. From July 19 to August 15, you can donate school supplies at the following locations. Donated supplies will benefit students in need in Belton ISD, Killeen ISD, and Temple ISD. (Click each district to view their 2021-2022 school supply lists.)

Here's What's Happening at This Year's Central Texas State Fair

After taking a year off in 2020, the Central Texas State Fair returns this September with everything you love about a rip-roarin' good time at the Bell County Expo Center! Here's your guide to the great shows, music, food, and rodeo action you expect as they do it big for 2021.