SAN ANTONIO – An alliance of Bexar County students, parents, community activists and teachers is urging state and local leaders to prioritize safety by not opening up campus doors too quickly this 2020-21 school year, as the state grapples with a worsening COVID-19 trend.
In a letter, signed by students and teachers in San Antonio’s biggest school districts, the group states campuses should remain closed for at least the first nine weeks of the school year, and remote learning should be implemented during that time.
“We’re committed to the task of returning safely to in-person instruction in school buildings, but present conditions across our communities make a safe return impossible,” the letter states. “In our assessment, the minimum criteria for reopening schools have not been met, and Bexar County public schools cannot be reopened safely under these conditions.”
The letter, which San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel President Alejandra Lopez said was sent to “local and state decision-makers,” also urges the recipients to meet with the coalition to discuss the needs of students, parents and teachers.
Districts must also receive the necessary funding to make distance learning possible for all students, the letter states.
The coalition is requesting that campuses remain closed until the San Antonio area “meets the thresholds set by public health experts and the CDC” and increases COVID-19 testing and tracing.
Read the full letter below:
The letter was signed by groups in North East, San Antonio, Northside, Southwest, South Side, Alamo Heights and New Braunfels independent school districts.
Earlier Tuesday, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez announced to district staff that the first three weeks of the semester will be remote learning. He made the announcement over a virtual meeting, but planned on holding a new briefing at 12:30 p.m. that day.
With the start of the school year around the corner, parents and teachers have expressed concern about students returning to class, as President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have urged in-class instruction.
During TV interviews over the weekend, DeVos stressed that kids attending school in the fall should be the rule, not the exception.
She asserted that “there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”
Public health experts have said the virus can still be dangerous to kids, even if the risk is lower, according to The Associated Press.
The latest guidance from the Texas Education Agency states that parents can choose to send their children to full-time on-campus or remote learning for the 2020-21 school year.
Students will be able to switch formats at the end of grading periods. Masks will be mandatory for students older than 10 years old and teachers in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases
You can view the TEA guidelines for the new school year below: