Texas education official says Gov. Abbott has 'abandoned his duties' and 'teachers are dying' without vax mandates
Greg Abbott prepares to deliver his State of the State speech outside Lockhart, Texas, on Feb. 1, 2021. - Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News/The Dallas Morning News/TNS

Texas State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez Jr. this week demanded that his state's Department of Health and Human Services implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schools in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott's orders.

Local news station KHOU-11 reports that Cortez Jr. wants the COVID-19 vaccine to be mandatory in the same way that measles and polio immunizations are already mandatory for students.

He said that this was necessary because teachers in the state had recently died after contracting COVID-19 while teaching classes.

"You know, the fact is teachers are dying because they're in our school doing the works that needs to be done to educate our kids," he said. "What I don't want is for our children to be next."

Cortez Jr. also hammered Gov. Greg Abbott, who has signed an executive order barring both vaccine and mask mandates for schools, although many schools in the state have defied the governor and made masks mandatory anyway.

"Millions of children are returning to classrooms where Gov. Abbott has banned the very mitigation strategies that have proven most effective at keeping them safe," he wrote in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. "It is clear that the governor has abandoned his duties."