SAN ANTONIO – North East Independent School District officials have outlined a school safety plan as some students head back to campus for the first time since the spring of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Superintendent of Schools Sean Maika sent a letter to parents Thursday addressing some of the questions he has been asked.
The key takeaway from the letter is that quarantining for students will not be required and there will be no letters sent home notifying parents of positive COVID-19 cases.
“This school year, public schools will treat COVID-19 exposure similar to the flu or strep throat,” the superintendent said in the letter.
NEISD spokesperson Aubrey Chancellor stated that while NEISD will not send out notifications, positive COVID cases that the district is made aware of will still be reported to “Metro Health and the state. Metro Health will notify close contacts. It will now be the local health authority – not the school.”
Maika said the two most common questions he’s asked in regards to the upcoming school year are whether or not students will be required to wear face masks and if virtual learning from home is an option for this year. The answer to both is no.
Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on May 18 that prohibited Texas public schools from requiring masks.
“No student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering,” according to the order.
Mask wearing will be optional for students, staff and visitors.
Virtual learning is also not an option, Maika said, thanks in part to Texas lawmakers failing to pass a bill that would have helped fund districts who offered remote virtual learning.
“I understand that learning from home is a prudent and safe option for families with unique personal and health issues,” Maika said in the letter. “Please know that we will continue to have a learning environment that addresses the health, safety, and emotional well-being of our children and staff.”
According to the NEISD school safety plan, any student who is required to stay home due to illness will be provided assignments to work on at home despite full-day virtual learning not being an option for the 2021-2022 school year.
Schools and classrooms will still be equipped with hand-sanitizing stations and water fountains will remain closed. Maika ended the letter with a reminder that self-screening for illnesses is extremely important.
The North East Education Association, the largest teachers’ union for NEISD employees, issued the following statement:
“The governor of Texas has stated there will be no changes to the mask mandate. NEISD therefore cannot mandate masks in the schools.
“Due to the fact that masks cannot be mandated,
“NEEA would like for NEISD to encourage all parents of unvaccinated students to wear a mask while on campus.
“NEEA would like to see protocols remain in place for staff and student safety.
- PPE available to all campuses
- Continuation of sanitization in classrooms and common areas on a regular basis
- Sanitation supplies for custodians and teachers
“NEEA would like for NEISD to provide an opportunity at campuses and the district office for all eligible students to receive vaccinations with parent consent.
“In addition, NEISD should have protocol in place to provide notification of Covid cases to parents, educators and the community.
“NEISD has done a great job with getting all teachers and staff vaccinated. NEEA looks forward to working with the NEISD administration and school board members on providing a safe learning and working environment for students, teachers and staff.”