SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Medical Society, which represents more than 5,000 local physicians and medical students, says San Antonio-area schools should not reopen for face-to-face learning until COVID-19 infections are under control.
A task force for the group recommends that in-person learning should not occur until the COVID-19 positivity rate for Bexar County drops below 5% for at least 14 consecutive days, and there is a decline in new COVID-19 cases for 14 consecutive days.
“At such time, the prevalence of the virus will have been reduced to a level that will allow other mitigation techniques in schools to be more effective,” according to a statement from the society’s task force.
As of Tuesday, Bexar County’s positivity rate -- the rate of COVID-19 tests that come back positive -- was over 14% with a total of 31,867 COVID-19 cases reported. Only 10% of staffed hospital beds are available, and more than 1,100 patients are in Bexar County hospitals due to complications with COVID-19, according to city data.
A directive issued Friday by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District mandates that school districts in Bexar County cannot reopen schools for on-campus face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7.
The Texas Education Agency announced last week that school districts can keep classrooms closed and offer virtual-only learning for up to eight weeks without a loss in funding.
Earlier this month, The Texas Pediatric Society issued a list of reasons why they support the reopening of the school, but the BCMS task force called it a “near impossible challenge” for schools to implement in-person learning and address the health and safety concerns of students and teachers.
“As physicians, we understand the importance of a safe, structured learning environment for children. In fact, as parents, we personally understand the challenges that distance learning presents for everyone involved. We are similarly aware of the need and importance of nutritional support received by many children at schools in this community. However, until safer conditions are achieved, it will be critical for the health of the entire community that schools continue on-line/distance instruction,” the BCMS task force said.