SAN ANTONIO – Some of the largest school districts in and around San Antonio are set to start their academic year this week, even though the first three weeks will be virtual.
SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez joined Leading SA Sunday to discuss what families and students can expect when classes begin on Monday, virtually.
“We’re very proud, Max, that we distributed over 42,000 devices. Even though we’re starting virtually for the first three weeks, anybody who needs a device, who needs a hotspot, please just call your school. Come pick it up. We’ll have staff ready to support you,” SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said.
With classes beginning online for the first three weeks, if the COVID-19 cases in San Antonio continues on a downward trend after that, some students may be able to return to the classroom. However, there is a plan in place for if and when that happens, Martinez said.
“We’re starting virtually. If health conditions improve, we would go to the yellow and it would be some time after Labor Day. We would faze in children very slowly, up to 25%, and four to six children to a classroom. We will require masks, we have cleansing procedures, disinfecting procedures, as well as children washing their hands every hour. These are procedures that parents would have to meet too before children can come in, but only again if health conditions improve,” Martinez said.
A total of 40% of SAISD teachers are voluntarily teaching from their classrooms, as they’re going to form the SAISD Safety Committee to ensure that all of the safety procedures and all of the safety equipment is adequate.
“We will have other services at our buildings. For example, distributing devices and special needs testing. But right now, we don’t want to put any timeline unless health conditions improve. And, all of our parents will have the option to stay virtual as long as they want, even all year long,” Martinez said.
As long as the school district is in the red and yellow zones, Martinez said there will not be extracirriculars or sports. At least, not until COVID-19 conditions improve.
“So in the red and yellow zones, we’ve said that there will be no extracurriculars. We may allow some practice and help and some conditioning because that is very important for any future activities for athletes. But right now, in the red and yellow, we’re not actually allowing any activities,” Martinez said.
Martinez said the first week or two that schools are in session may be a bit difficult as everyone adjusts to a virtual format; however, he’s reminding parents and students not to panic. He said even if students aren’t in the classroom in-person, school resources are always available if needed.
“Don’t panic if your child struggling or your child is having trouble logging on. Our staff are going to be there to support you. It always takes us a week or two just to get things in order. So please don’t panic. We will be there in our buildings, will be open for any needs you have with devices for you to registering children,” Martinez said.