Mother urges community to mask-up their students or continue to see school closures

Victoria Ybarra says less than 24 hours after being exposed to COVID-19 at Sabinal Elementary,,he was in the ER

Sabinal – Victoria Ybarra says within 24 hours of finding out her son was exposed to COVID-19 at Sabinal Elementary school, she was in an ER seeking help for him.

“He couldn’t walk, he would cry because his bones were hurting. He was so cold. It was just, it was really scary,” she explains.

This is the second time he got COVID-19, the first time in February and he had no symptoms. This time, she’s sure it was in his classroom.

She blames the lack of mask mandates for the exposure and the increasing number of issues in classrooms and school campuses in rural school districts.

“Some classes, teachers wear masks and other classes they don’t wear masks, so it’s like a 50/50,” Ybarra said. Her son is still facing a high fever several days in.

Texas Superintendents can’t legally require students and staff to wear masks, but some in rural school districts are imploring families to do so, as several school campuses and districts face closures just weeks into the new school year.

Sabinal ISD Superintend Richard Grill says they’re approaching 40 cases in four weeks of school.

“If we all work together and we understand that what worked last year and what we were doing last year worked, work with your schools to let it work again this year,” Grill explains about masks.

He can’t legally require staff and students to wear masks, but he implores them to do so, so they can get back to business. “In the end, the kids suffer because if we’re not having school or we’re having substitutes in the classroom, they’re just simply not learning. The little ones aren’t self disciplined enough to do virtual instruction anyhow.”

He says the number of cases and people exposed causes small school districts to stretch their staff thin.

They’re not alone, other districts have had to shutdown campuses due to COVID-19 exposures. Grill says 12 staff at Sabinal high school and junior high school were out this week, and since combining classrooms was not an option, they were forced to close the campus.

“That’s 32 percent of our campus staff that are out. And frankly, we just can’t find subs. A lot of our subs are retirees and they’re pretty scared about being around COVID-19,” he said.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.