San Antonio schools gear up for new school year amid continued COVID-19 concerns

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Schools around San Antonio are preparing for back-to-school as the Summer continues to creep by.

COVID-19 cases have continued to climb as the Delta variant of coronavirus has spread across the state and nation. (At least) five fully-vaccinated Texas Democratic state lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 while in Washington D.C. breaking quorum earlier this month.

A national pediatricians group recommended on July 19 that children over the age of two should wear masks when they return to school, even if they are vaccinated.

The guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is stricter than what came from the Center for Disease Control earlier this month which stated fully vaccinated students and teachers do not need to wear masks. CDC guidance changed this week to recommend anyone, including those that are vaccinated, should wear masks in areas where the delta variant is spreading quickly, but did not make specific recommendations for schools.

No matter what guidance is given, whether it be from the CDC or any other national group, it falls flat in the face of a May executive order by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that prohibits public schools and other government entities from mandating masks.

City officials said yesterday they are sending a letter to ask Abbott to amend the order and Metro Health is recommending all students and staff wear masks, including on school buses.

East Central ISD is among the local school district that will be following Abbott’s executive order. District officials said they will encourage unvaccinated students to wear masks, offer COVID-10 testing and vaccination opportunities in addition to social distancing as much as possible which includes limiting student interaction during passing periods.

NEISD said in a letter last week that school officials will treat COVID-19 infections like the flu and initially said they would not be reporting positive cases to parents. The school district reversed course Monday and will continue notifying parents, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page.

Funding for virtual learning through the state died on the floor of the Texas Legislative regular session when it ended on May 30 and some local districts like NEISD, San Antonio ISD and Boerne ISD will not be offering virtual learning for the upcoming year.

At Northside ISD, students who meet academic, attendance and behavior eligibility criteria will have the opportunity to do all virtual learning with caveats that include camera requirements, following the on-campus class schedule and limited access to performing arts, athletics, and certain academic courses. Students who have extenuating circumstances can apply for a medical waiver to take part in virtual learning as well.

School starts as early as August 9 for South San Antonio and San Antonio independent school districts. Boerne begins Aug. 11 and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD starts Aug. 12. Southside, Northeast, East Central, Alamo Heights and Harlandale school districts all start Aug. 16. Northside ISD begins Aug. 23 and Comal ISD starts Aug. 24.

More about: