Filipino teacher Cristina Timbreza teaches at a high school in Texas -- and she's conflicted about holding in-person classes again.
"I have done everything I think I should do to prepare myself. I bought the stuff I need to protect me. I have my mask of course," Timbreza said. "I could say no also at the same time because there's too much fear around and too many things that I hear and I'm so anxious."
As of Tuesday, nearly 3.5 million Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Texas since the start of the pandemic. More than 13,000 are hospitalized.
Despite being tested with Covid recently, Governor Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in schools. He argued that parents and students should have freedom of choice in whether to wear masks. Hidalgo School District where Timbreza teaches was among eight districts that sued the governor over the ban. The state's Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the districts.
"That's really a big plus for us because now we are asking students to put their masks on and we'll not be in trouble. So we’re okay on that point. For now. Because there are still a lot of controversies," Timbreza said.
Fil-Am San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is also pleased with the court ruling. His city's school district likewise sued the state over the mask mandate ban. He reminded residents recently how Covid has sickened not just hundreds of adults in San Antonio, but children as well. Over 20 pediatric patients are hospitalized. Nirenberg emphasized that "89% of patients in area hospitals are unvaccinated."
Last week, San Antonio School District announced that all teachers and staff are mandated to get the Covid-19 vaccine -- the first district in the state to do so.
Hidalgo County's vaccination rate is slightly better than San Antonio at over 55%. But certainly not enough, Timbreza said, to ease her worry. "We are reminded over and over to do what we should do because there have been a lot of deaths in that city where I teach. Even from the school itself. Several passed away because of Covid last year."