Bexar County’s school districts won’t close schools despite health department recommendation to go virtual

San Antonio Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo urged parents to keep kids home

File photo (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Metro Health issued a new directive on Tuesday advising against in-person education, but school districts in Bexar County aren’t planning on closing campuses.

Even though the school indicator is now in the Red Zone, which means the risk is high, according to Metro Health, city and county leaders don’t have the power to enforce that recommendation, and San Antonio’s largest school districts have said they do not plan to go to 100% virtual again.

Northeast ISD, Northside ISD and San Antonio ISD say that students who are already on-campus will be able to stay there.

“Right now, our intent is not to change our plans. We are not looking at any plan that would have us in an all-virtual model,” said NISD spokesman Barry Perez.

“We’re staying open because our schools are safe. We’re staying open because our data shows there’s no spread. We’re staying open because our safety protocols are effective,” NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said.

North East ISD is aware of Metro Health’s recommendation against in-person instruction. At this time, NEISD does not...

Posted by North East Independent School District - NEISD on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

During Tuesday night’s briefing, San Antonio Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo acknowledged that her plea was directed more at parents than educators.

“We urge parents to choose remote learning until we can get over this hump,” Woo said during her announcement. She later emphasized that “this is really an appeal to parents because schools have less control right now because of the TEA rules.”

Guidance from the Texas Education Agency allows for schools to temporarily shut down in response to situations like an outbreak on campus. However, a proactive closure and return to remote-only learning could affect state funding, unless the district made up the time later in the year.

But school administrators have said that safety comes before funding when it comes to making any decisions to close campuses.

Click here to read more about the county’s new guidance for schools from pre-kindergarten through university.

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About the Authors:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.