UISD reviews plan of action for return to school

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Local school districts are facing struggles with less than a week before class starts for public schools in Laredo.

COVID cases are now rising in every state, pushing many hospitals into crisis mode.

Regardless, it’s time to head back to school while the virus is causing the highest number of U.S. cases since February, hitting the south where vaccination rates remain low especially hard.

“Kids will not be forced by government or by schools to wear a mask in school,” said Governor Greg Abbott.

The debate over whether to mask up shows no signs of slowing down.

Governors in Texas and Florida have forbidden school districts from putting mandates in place, but with increasing numbers some say action needs to be done.

“We’ve been sending thousands and thousands of signatures to Governor Abbott personally, and to all that the delegates in Austin, stating something needs to be done,” said Rene De La Vina.

“We are following, in light of what Dallas is doing and what Houston has done an other school districts across the state is doing and we feel our community is undergoing a crisis because of the variant, and with the hospitalization rates and the lack of ICU beds,” said

Currently, both UISD and LISD have plans if their educators in place get sick, but if one of their children is diagnosed with COVID-19 they need to have enough days logged in their absentee bank or they won’t get paid.

“Yeah, I’ve been talking to both school superintendents, Doctor Sylvia Rios and also superintendent David Gonzalez of United ISD. Yeah, if they can pass a policy like that override what the governor is saying that would be fantastic, but the problems there is the legality there.”

The COVID-19 situation remains dire. Healthcare facilities are open but resources are limited due to the surge.

In some cases, it can be an hour by hour situation. The surge is now forcing worst case scenarios.

“We’ve reviewed some information with legal authorities, our legal team, and of course we’ve had searched for clearance, clarification, from TEA,” said Gloria Rendon. “So, one of the items on that surfaced is remote learning or what is better known to our parents as virtual learning or instruction at home. So, that guidance is basically telling us our school districts that students can be eligible for virtual learning if they meet one of the three conditions of criteria.”

The three cases in which virtual learning is possible are one: if a student tests COVID positive, or two: if they are under quarantine because a family member has tested positive, or three: if a student experiences a temporary disability that impedes them from coming to school.

“We feel like it’s the safe thing to do. It’s an act of god. It’s a pandemic. Nobody’s to blame for this.”

Students who qualify for virtual learning have a maximum of 20 days to be instructed online.

After that, a waiver has to be sent to the state and approved or the student has to return to class.

A special meeting for UISD will take place on Thursday which will allow board members to participate via video conference.

The mask mandate is on the agenda and the outcome should be revealed shortly thereafter.

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