Despite omicron surge, Southside ISD Superintendent says district is holding strong

Superintendent Rolando Ramirez joined Leading SA on Sunday

SAN ANTONIO – Schools across the country and in the San Antonio community are facing many obstacles due to the omicron COVID-19 surge.

The latest pandemic wave has led to staff shortages, temporary school closures and has presented many challenges in the classroom with in-person learning.

Superintendent of Schools for Southside ISD Rolando Ramirez joined Leading SA Sunday to discuss how the district has combatted these challenges so far and what protocols are in place.

“So these last couple of weeks, it’s been a little bit difficult with this surge with the omicron variant. We’ve had about 15% of our students out due to a COVID-related issue, whether it was an exposure or a positive case, also about 10% of our staff being out. So it brings up issues on coverage, on the remote conferencing that’s provided to those students that are at home with connectivity issues that we’ve been dealing with. So it creates a little bit of problems, but nothing that we haven’t been able to handle so far,” Ramirez said.

A surge in omicron cases across the country, and locally, has led to staff shortages and a lack of substitute teachers. However, Ramirez said the district has a utilized inclusion teachers to help keep students in the classroom.

“We have inclusion teachers. These are teachers that team teach with our teachers. So if one of the two teachers are out, the other one takes the place of the other teacher. And then we have a district team that also provides coverage in the event that the inclusion teacher and the main teacher are out. So really, the use of substitutes have been minimal. So when we do call a substitute, then we do have some substitutes available,” Ramirez said.

With the influx of cases recently, Ramirez said on-site COVID-19 testing is available to all students and staff on a weekly basis at all campuses in the district.

“We do have Community Labs here at our district every Wednesday. The COVID testing is offered to any student or staff member that’s interested in taking the testing. It’s available at all campuses. We average about a quarter of our students and staff that get tested on a weekly basis. We also have a clinic here in, on site here at the district that COVID testing is available,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said despite all of the challenges this school year, he’s giving thanks to students, parents and staff for their hard work and understanding.

“We thank our students and parents for their patience, understanding, you know, as we maneuver and navigate through this, these challenges that are brought out by the pandemic. Our staff have done an amazing job, you know, coming to school every single day and keeping our students safe,” Ramirez said.

You can watch the full interview with Ramirez in the video player above.


About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.