TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Governor Greg Abbott said he understands the disappointment of Texas students and teachers in his decision to keep schools closed the remainder of the academic year, but stressed that it was the only safe option in the face of the coronavirus.
“It’s understandable that (students) are disappointed, especially those who were set for graduation,” Abbott told KETK anchors Neal Barton and Kaci Koviak in a live video interview.
On Friday morning, Abbott outlined his plan to open Texas in stages in an effort to rescue the state’s economy, all while listening to the advice of medical experts.
And while that plan entails allowing some businesses that had been closed to reopen on what he calls a “retail-to-go” model, Abbott issued an executive order keeping Texas schools closed for the rest of the year.
He said he understands how disappointing that news is for teachers and students, particularly those who would have graduated this year, there simply was no other acceptable option.
“This is their last year in school, so this is particularly challenging for them,” he said of the would-have-been graduates. “But the decision was based upon the advice of these best doctors in the State of Texas who we have advising us. They said it would be unsafe to allow students to return to school for the remainder of the school year.
“The last thing I can do as governor,” he said, “is to put especially children in a situation that could cause them to possibly spread the coronavirus and even have some of them or their teachers get sick or even threaten their lives.”
Like so much else, the spread of COVID-19 has upended the plans of countless Texas high school seniors and college students who would have graduated in May or June. But while graduating classes will not be walking across stages this spring, Abbott urged families and school communities to commemorate such milestones as best they can.
“Find a special way to celebrate those who are graduating,” he said. “And be prepared for school next year.”