San Antonio’s school risk level downgraded to ‘moderate’ as kids head back to class amid pandemic

Risk levels updated Monday as positivity rate falls below 10%

Attendance clerk Amanda Garza, left, passes a computer to student Joshua Chavez, right, as administrators and teachers pass out schedules, computers, and calculators to some of the 1,900 students at Southside High School, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in San Antonio. Southside will begin the year with remote teaching and has added hotspots to the school district to help students without access to the internet. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – The city’s risk level for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased from “high” to “moderate” as the majority of districts reopen their doors to students.

The risk level was updated Monday evening, along with the key progress and warning indicators that give local officials guidance based on trends and hospital capacity.

The “moderate” level for learning means in-person instruction should prioritize students with special needs, who are at-risk, or who lack access to resources, according to the city.

109 new COVID-19 cases; positivity rate dips below 10%

In this zone, cohorts of six or fewer students are recommended, but building nor classroom capacity should not exceed 25%. The buildings should have adequate ventilation and allowance for social distancing.

It’s a less strict approach to back-to-school, as the “high” level did not recommend in-person instruction. Instead, ancillary services that were in-person, one-on-one and without prolonged contact were recommended for vulnerable students.

The risk level is calculated based on the COVID-19 positivity rate, doubling rate and a two-week decline in cases, city spokeswoman Laura Mayes said.

“This week, the weekly positivity rate improved again to 9.9% but we are aiming for 5% or less,” she said. “The doubling time, which is the number of days it takes for the total number of cases to double, stayed at 40 days."

“Finally, the 14-day case curve has shown steady decline, but we want to see a steady decline without rebounds in cases.”

At all risk levels, schools should provide fresh masks daily, use outdoor spaces as often as possible and monitor social distancing.

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San Antonio’s risk level stands at “moderate” — in a green zone — as the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests and hospital trends decrease.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Monday reported 45,364 total COVID-19 cases and 725 total deaths in Bexar County, an increase of 109 new cases and four deaths.

A total of 473 patients remain hospitalized, 207 are in the intensive care unit and 139 are on ventilators, according to the city. There are 17% of staffed beds available and 59% of ventilators available.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.