SAN ANTONIO – Editor’s note: Want to have your voice heard? Submit your thoughts on returning to school here. Watch KSAT’s Back To School town hall for grade-school students here. Tune in here on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. for a town hall about middle and high school students.
San Antonio-area schools are preparing to reopen for the 2021-2022 academic year with face-to-face instruction amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Concerns over student and faculty safety are high and changes in health-guidance policies at federal, state and local levels are sometimes contradictory.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and San Antonio’s Metro Health are all advising people to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccine status but Gov. Greg Abbott has doubled down on his stance prohibiting governmental entities like schools from issuing masks or vaccine mandates.
Schools are required to comply with the governor’s executive order but with so many concerns about the ongoing pandemic, KSAT asked parents, educators and students to weigh in.
Viewer responses started flooding in immediately and we’ve laid some of them out below. We aren’t done listening though, and there are still more responses to share. If you want to weigh in, you can do so below the responses in the prompt at the end of the article.
You can find more background information about where things stand currently and the latest education news in our back-to-school section.
As a parent, I feel if they are giving us the option to hold our children back this year, we should also be given the same choice when it comes to in-person or virtual learning. Schools are all about numbers for their funding. You’re going to losing funding if our children withdraw from your district.Anonymous
I am a teacher and my concern is if my son or I get COVID, we don’t have two weeks of sick days, so I’m unsure what we will do.Anonymous
He [Abbott] is putting politics above the safety of our children. With long COVID and the association with decreased performance on intelligence tests, we are taking unnecessary risks…Anonymous
I think that parents should have a choice to send or not to send their kids to school. I do think that kids that are not vaccinated should continue with virtual learning. Gov. Greg Abbott is doing a terrible job protecting Texans.Anonymous
I am full of fear for my unvaccinated 10-year-old grandson with asthma going back to in-school learning. Absolutely terrified….Anonymous
I’m very concerned about my 6-year-old returning to school. She cannot be vaccinated since she’s under 12 years old and I’m concerned about other kids not wearing masks. Honestly, I’m thinking about home school and very disappointed that virtual learning wasn’t offered for at least them.Tiffany
I have an elementary student and prefer her to do virtual learning due to the rise [in cases] of the pandemic. How are they allowing the student back in school when they are not even eligible for the vaccine yet?Anonymous
San Antonio ISD started the Jump Start program three weeks ago and within a week teachers and students have tested positive for COVID... why are we not seeing the clear picture of numbers rising and the risk we are taking?Anonymous
As an educator and a mom, I am appalled by the lack of foresight and blatant disregard for young lives. They have no other way to be protected without mask mandates! The governor and his supporters are senselessly leading little lives directly to sickness and, for some, death. What a disgrace!Anonymous
Honestly, our children should not be sent back to school. Let them continue doing classes from home. If our children are made to go back to school now that the delta variant is hitting so close to home, our children are going to get sick and some of these children aren’t going to be so lucky.Anonymous
I’m very upset to hear that mandatory masks indoors are not supported by our government. Children can’t be vaccinated at the moment and are more likely to spread any virus. I don’t see how careless people remain in office.Mary
What are the estimated class sizes for each level of school (elementary, middle, high school)? Has research on the effects of class sizes been used to help guide administration on making sure to not overfill classrooms? Is there a plan if there are great numbers of late enrollment?Anonymous
As a parent, I’m not worried about COVID-19 this year because my 6 kids contracted COVID-19 last November. You know what it did to them? Nothing. No fevers, no coughs. They were a little sluggish for a day or two. COVID has nothing on generally healthy kids. I’m more concerned about masks for 7 hours a day.Andreana
My biggest fear is sending my children back to the classrooms. I have 3 kids who all have moderate to severe asthma and are way too young to be vaccinated. My oldest has a history of epilepsy and was not a great fit for getting the vaccine. My little one has sleep apnea. What happened to virtual learning?Anonymous
I can’t believe that children don’t matter. Elementary school students will get the virus and spread it to those at home. This will most definitely make it so that the delta variant, which is immune to the vaccine, shows its ugly head. I feel that children are more important than money.Anonymous
We are in NISD and I have a really big concern about sending my children back to in-person learning. With cases rising daily and not being able to vaccinate my children because they are not of age is a real concern. Please allow for virtual learning again!Anonymous
I think the Governor needs to be in an elementary school for 15 days with no mask. He says it’s no risk - let him be there!!Anonymous
Why is Virtual Instruction not offered? Why is there funding for other things, however, not for this? What are the school districts going to do or tell parents if they lose their children to the virus because of attending school in person? Why is the president not stepping in to help?Anonymous
I think it’s cowardly that districts aren’t fighting harder to protect children. Why hasn’t a group of superintendents filed suit against Gov. Abbott for the right to protect students, faculty and staff? Children under 12 remain susceptible to the delta variant and are not eligible for vaccines. LEAD!Gabriel
I’d say keep students virtual. I wouldn’t want any students getting sick with COVID. It is horrible. I don’t think any kid would want to deal with having it! I want my kids to be virtual.Anonymous
My concern is that the Governor has made it impossible for schools to take proper precautions and try to work ahead of the virus. Everything that kept students safe last year is no longer available and thus this year we will see more children affected. Why remove what is working during a pandemic?Jessica
I think EVERYONE should be wearing a mask, and EVERYONE should be mandated to get the vaccine or face strict penalties. This is crazy! Why are people being so stubborn! If it was just about their own health and LIFE then that’s your choice. However not when it includes the public, my kids and my family.Joshua
I am very concerned about the health and safety of my kids for the upcoming school year. I am a parent in NEISD. I wrote detailed emails to Governor Abbot and the TEA this weekend begging for masks in schools, especially elementary as those kids can’t be vaccinated. I can provide copies of my emails.Anonymous
Many parents who have responded to the KSAT prompt expressed concern that virtual learning would not be an option. Texas law only allows remote instruction for public schools as long as the majority of instruction is in person, according to a report from the Texas Tribune.
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 block a controversial voting bill.
One parent commented that she thought the COVID-19 delta variant is immune to the vaccine, but that is not true. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be effective against the delta strain of the coronavirus.
The Chief of Epidemiology at the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Rita Espinoza also recently told KSAT that, although vaccinated people can still get infected, the vaccine is still the best way to protect yourself.
KSAT reached out to San Antonio ISD regarding one parent’s concerns about a possible outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the Jump Start Program. A spokesperson for the district said officials were not aware of an outbreak.
“We did have some campuses with more than one case of COVID-19 during Jump Start, after staff and students had been away from campuses and our weekly COVID-19 testing for a few weeks. This, at times, included siblings in the same household,” said SAISD spokesperson Laura Short.
Want to chime in? We may publish your thoughts on our website or feature them on our newscasts, but you can remain anonymous if you wish.