SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: If you have questions about the new school year, KSAT.com is livestreaming a virtual Town Hall on August 4 and 11.
Students and faculty are getting ready for the 2021-2022 school year after a hectic academic year that saw various forms of in-person and virtual learning due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The majority of San Antonio-area schools will start the academic year in mid-August but with ever-changing health guidance at the federal, state and local level, once again concerns around safety are high with districts, teachers and parents.
With the community positivity rate rising to 17% in the last week, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson joined a chorus of local officials asking Gov. Greg Abbott to remove his prohibition on their ability to enforce wearing masks in schools and government buildings.
So what about virtual education? According to a report from the Texas Tribune, Texas law allows remote instruction for public schools as long as the majority of instruction is in person.
However, Texas lawmakers failed to pass a bill in the most recent legislative session that would have helped fund districts that previously offered remote virtual learning.
House Bill 1468 died on the legislative floor despite being broadly supported by both Republicans and Democrats and would have allowed funding for virtual education in Texas schools. The issue was due to House Democrats walking off the floor in an effort to bock a controversial voting bill. Read more on that here.
The Texas Education Agency website notes that it continues to work with Abbott, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to coordinate and plan the state’s response to COVID-19 but has yet to release official guidance for schools regarding the pandemic for the upcoming school year.
Many area school districts are also still ironing out their plans in regards to COVID-19. North East Independent School District, for example, initially said it would not send notifications to parents of positive COVID cases and then reversed the decision following backlash.
With so many concerns about the pandemic and what the safest ways are to move forward with education for the upcoming school year, KSAT wants to hear what you think. We may publish your thoughts on our website or feature them on our newscasts.