SAN ANTONIO – As the state of Texas continues to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, area school districts are still gearing up for the incoming school year this fall.
On Sunday, Northside ISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods joined Leading SA to speak about the plan in place as schools prepare for reopening.
“The guidance from the state at this point is that all buildings need to be open to all students whose parents choose for them to be there five days a week. And so, that’s what we’re planning for. We know that in our school district, we’re going to have significant numbers of parents who choose for their children to stay with distance learning... We’ve got to prepare for both in-person and distance learning,” Dr. Woods said.
Under state guidelines that were released by Texas education officials last week, schools will be required to offer five days of in-person instruction per week, according to a report from the Texas Tribune. However, if parents are concerned about safety, they can opt to keep their children home to take online classes.
Although there are state guidelines in place, Dr. Woods said he believes local school districts should have more control over how their schools operate.
“What I would like to see is some ability on the part of school districts and boards of trustees to look at their local health conditions and make decisions that might, for instance, restrict the number of students in a building on a given day... limit the number of people in the building. I think it enables us to provide a much safer experience for both staff and students,” Dr. Woods said.
On Saturday, Bexar County surpassed 19,000 COVID-19 cases and the death toll continued to climb. There are currently 19,137 COVID-19 cases and the death toll reached 175.
With this being said, Dr. Woods said schools in the county are preparing for the worst-case scenario.
“We’ll be prepared to go to 100% virtual learning as of the first day of school in case we have to close a classroom or a school or in case the state or the city closed all schools, in which case we would definitely be ready to go out to 100%,” Dr. Woods said.
If the Northside ISD school district had a lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 case, Dr. Woods said a closure or quarantine of some sort would be imminent.
“Clearly, if we had a lab-confirmed positive test, we would need to close some segment of the school, whether that be a classroom or a larger portion of the school or perhaps the entire school. Those will be very challenging decisions,” Dr. Woods said.
The district has spent the last few months preparing for in-class learning, figuring out a way to arrange transportation for students, and have installed Plexiglas and other elements to help minimize risks in the school buildings.
“We’re really focused on trying to create an environment where parents and students as well as staff feel comfortable coming to the building. And if they don’t, we can do distance learning in an effective way that’s safe for everybody,” Dr. Woods said.
The full interview with Dr. Woods can be viewed in the video player above.