‘Schools will not be reopening at full speed in August,' San Antonio mayor says

Health officials will develop 'uniform set of expectations initially,' he said

SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio school districts scramble to meet the needs of students while trying to keep them safe during a global pandemic, Mayor Ron Nirenberg is acknowledging there will no doubt be “modified” openings.

A task force of teachers, students, teachers unions and pediatricians will meet as soon as Thursday to discuss how schools in the city’s 17 districts can reopen safely, Nirenberg said during two Q&A segments with KSAT on Wednesday.

“One thing I can say for sure is that schools will not be opening at full speed in August,” he said. “That’s pretty clear.”

Nirenberg first announced the coalition during his daily briefing with Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. Hours before the briefing, the Texas Education Agency said local public health officials would be able to keep campuses closed for in-person instruction without risking state education funding.

Metro Health creates task force to come up with guidelines for students to return to campus

The task force for San Antonio will develop guidelines on start dates, safety protocols inside classrooms for in-person instruction and services provided to students, like meals, Nirenberg said.

Members will meet as soon as Thursday, he said, and guidance could be issued by early next week.

“There’s a lot of things that a school does that go beyond just classroom instruction that have to be meted out to make sure that there’s a safe environment,” he said.

He added the public health authority has jurisdiction over the city’s 17 school districts “by virtue of this new TEA guidance.”

“There’s a lot of people involved in different resources and level of needs that we have to consider. But I think Metro Health and the local public health authority will come up with a uniform set of expectations initially, and then I think as we move further into the timeline, there’ll be some flexibility built-in,” he said.

“But again, this is touch and go. We’re in a pandemic. Things change very quickly.”

He added the main goal is for students and teachers to return to a safe environment.

Texas officials scramble to provide school reopening guidelines with only weeks of summer left

The developments on Wednesday came amid tension and concern for the safety of students, teachers and staff as the state continues to see alarming COVID-19 case counts, deaths and hospitalizations.

Gov. Greg Abbott this week stated the TEA would ease up on strict guidelines that stated districts would be required to provide five days of in-person learning. The guidance also stated districts had up to three weeks at the beginning of the school year to provide virtual instruction as plans are ironed out.

Abbott on Tuesday said the three-week grace period would be extended, and districts would be provided more flexibility.

WATCH: Part 2 of Nirenberg’s interview

Read also:

Texas classrooms can stay closed this fall without losing state funding if local health officials order it

‘We are not ready to come back to school full speed on the days they’re scheduled to open,’ SA Mayor says

Hidalgo County orders school campuses to remain closed to students until late September due to COVID-19

Coalition of San Antonio parents, teachers advocate for remote learning for first 9 weeks of school

Is it safe for students to return to the classroom? San Antonio doctor, teacher, psychologist weigh in

Texas will extend time that schools will be allowed to stay online-only, Gov. Greg Abbott says

About the Authors:

Steve Spriester started at KSAT in 1995 as a general assignments reporter. Now, he anchors the station's top-rated 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.

Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.