Your back-to-school questions answered

We asked your questions about safety, staffing, COVID, curriculum, transportation, discipline or anything else school-related?

Your back-to-school questions answered. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Back-to-school time is always filled with excitement and a little trepidation.

But given COVID concern, worries about school safety and news of teacher shortages — many parents are downright anxious.

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That’s why we wanted to find answers to your questions so you can start the new year feeling prepared and confident.

We asked you to tell us — what questions do you have for school officials as kids prepare to go back to school?

We took your questions to your district leaders and received answers.

Here are some of those questions followed by answers provided by the district:

**If you don’t see your district listed, we did not receive any questions from parents in that district.

Comal ISD

Parent Question: “What safety protocols will be in place (if any) for COVID-19?”

CISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question: “What is the long-term plan for bus transportation? Our bus got canceled more than 10 times last year. We were scrambling on how to get out child home from school. What do our tax dollars pay for if not transportation to and from school?”

CISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question: “Are school districts enforcing stricter policies and procedures after the Uvalde massacre?”

CISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question: “Has the school ventilation system been improved? Will there be screening for people who feel sick? What school improvements are being made to make students feel safe in case of an active shooter?”

CISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question:With a teacher shortage, will classes be larger than normal? Is increasing teacher pay possible to help bring more teachers back? Will more school police be on campus every day?”

CISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Edgewood ISD

Parent Question: “Will mask mandates be reinstated? What protocols will be in place when someone tests positive for COVID-19? Will in-school testing be provided again?”

EISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

IDEA Public Schools

Parent Question: “Schools such as IDEA do not have crosswalks or hazard lights. Why can’t IDEA campuses get the same level of traffic control measures as other public schools?”

IDEA Answer: “We have an internal cross-functional team that is partnering with local city officials to develop a plan to add crosswalks/hazard lights to IDEA schools that currently do not have them. These projects will remain ongoing during the school year and be based on individual campus needs.”

Parent Question: “Will there be police officers at school daily?”

IDEA Answer: “We believe the best school safety and security program is multi-layered with component of both emotional and physical safety. During the beginning of the school year, several schools will leverage police support to keep campuses safe and secure.”

Marion ISD

Parent Question: Will schools ever implement a social skills curriculum? We have kids who have very poor communication skills, not to mention students with mental health issues. Schools need to be more proactive in creating good citizens instead of focusing on STAAR scores.”

MISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Medina Valley ISD

Parent Question: “What extra safety precautions are you taking? How are you ensuring the safety of our kids? What is going to change?”

MVISD Answer: “MVISD is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all, and we are always looking for ways to improve security. A safety assessment was conducted this summer on all eight Medina Valley ISD campuses. During this process we met with campus administrators and staff to evaluate the security of each school. Additions and upgrades to fencing, gates, doors, locks and other safety measures are being addressed at this time to ensure we are as prepared as possible for the start of the school year.

We will continue to not only follow but exceed TEA’s ongoing guidance. We want our students and staff to know that they are in a safe environment when they come to school each day. We want them to be able to focus on the great learning taking place in the classroom, and we will do whatever it takes to help provide everyone with that environment here at MVISD.”

Parent Question: With current high-level teacher stress, increasing work-related demands, staff turnover, and safety/health threats surrounding schools, what will MVISD do to identify and address the mental well-being of those faculty and staff members working with our children? Children’s mental well-being has been highlighted as one of the MVISD School Board’s top goals for the 20-21 school year sparked by the COVID-related school closures, but there weren’t any apparent means of gathering baseline data, measuring progress, or documentation with any hint of fidelity to determine if they actually addressed or met their goal. Also, we want to know what MVISD can and will do now that there is new leadership in the district.”

MVISD Answer: “The safety, health and well-being of our students and staff is always top priority. In line with the School Board’s 2020-2021 goals, additional social workers were added onto our staff to allow for a dedicated social worker on each of our campuses. Our social workers also provided wellness support directly for our staff, additionally this year we are also offering targeted professional development on self-care, providing employees with tools on how to clock their emotions and tips that they can implement to manage stress.”

Parent Question: “With so many districts planning ways to address behavior or align campuses with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), student cell phone use and access is a reoccurring topic of concern from teachers and administrators. But given the incredible risks of sending our children to school, access to outside contact is a priority for many families. How can parents help to put reasonable limits on their children’s phones at school while ensuring their child does not have to lock it up all day or have it taken up by school administrators and then have to pay $10-15?”

MVISD Answer: “The district permits students to possess personal cell phones for safety purposes; however, these devices must remain turned off and out of sight during the instructional day, including during all testing, unless they are being used for prior Administration-approved instructional purposes.”

North East ISD

Parent Question: (re: Northern Hills Elementary School)“Gap to the main playground area. Between the gate and fence anyone can enter this area. Will the doors on the portable classroom be locked during school hours? Will they be locked from the inside or outside or both? Anyone can enter these areas and hide. Very concerned due to the man who has been seen naked and inappropriate in this area. Also concerned due to what happened in Uvalde. Afraid to send our kindergarten to school.”

NEISD’s Northern Hills Elem. Principal Answer: “We are reviewing our current campus procedures as we prepare for the new school year. As safety continues to be our main priority for our students and families. It will be communicated to all staff and families that all doors to the annex will be locked. Our main doors into the main building will continue to remain locked during the school day. Approved staff will have appropriate keys to approved areas. Safety protocols will be reviewed with staff at the beginning of the school year and will be ongoing during the year as well. We will continue to work alongside the district with upgrades as needed.

“This year, we have an amazing PTA Board, and we want to increase parent participation to include our Watch DOG program. Our Watch DOGs provide an extra set of eyes for our campus as they are able to walk the perimeter of the grounds while we are inside the building. If anything suspicious is observed, please do not hesitate to reach out to the campus or North East Police Department. We welcome feedback and suggestions as we want to our parents and families to feel secure in leaving their children with us during the school day.”

Parent Question: “Will student need clear plastic backpacks or regular backpacks this school year?”

NEISD Answer: “No, we are not requiring clear backpacks.”

Northside ISD

Parent Question: “Will polling sites still be held at schools when students are present?”

NISD Answer: “While polling locations are not yet finalized, our Board of Trustees approved a 2022-2023 school calendar that makes the general election day on Nov. 8 a student holiday and staff work day.”

Parent Question: “Is there still a bus driver shortage in Northside? Are bus routes going to be different because of the new high school?”

NISD Answer: “NISD is still hiring bus drivers and driver assistants for the new school year. Every summer the district reviews all bus routes and makes necessary adjustments. This summer a total of 11 routes were cancelled - in most cases because the route now had safe walkways for students traveling to and from school. As always, NISD will continue to monitor routes through the school year and make adjustments as necessary.”

Parent Question: “How do I talk to my preschooler about what to do if there is a shooter?”

NISD Answer: “All students and staff will review the procedures in the event of an active threat on campus. This will be done in a way that is age-appropriate. Parents are encouraged to speak to their child’s school (principal, counselor, etc.) on specific concerns they may have for their individual child.”

Parent Question: “How do we know our children will be safe?”

NISD Answer: “While no set plans or procedures can offer a 100% guarantee, the district has long had sound and effective safety measures in place to keep our students and staff as safe as possible. We will continue to monitor these safety measures and will look for ways to improve and enhance them. We urge parents to speak with their child’s principal regarding any questions or concerns they may have. We also stress the message: If you see something, say something. NISD maintains a 24 hour/7 day a week Safeline for individuals to anonymously report any information regarding potential threats. Reports can be acted upon immediately by NISD police and/or other district staff.”

Parent Question: “Has the school district taken any extra precautions to make sure our schools are safe?”

NISD Answer: “The district is beginning with a strong foundation of effective protocols and procedures already in place. To support those, this summer we have invested the time inspecting safety aspects at each of our campuses, to include: lighting, PA and intercom systems, campus Knox Box systems, and all interior and exterior doors. As of late last week, we had inspected over 20,000 doors at 102 campuses to ensure both the door and hardware were functioning and securing properly. The rest will be completed before the start of our school year. As staff return on contract, active threat training will be held for them as well as reviews of district and campus safety plans. Likewise, active threat training will be provided to all students and will be followed up throughout the school year with drills each semester. Other existing measures include: bullet-resistant security lobbies at every elementary school, surveillance cameras, access control on many facility doors, a state of the art police command center, and a 24 hour/7 day a week district Safeline. In addition to all of these, NISD maintains a police department with over 100 licensed police officers when fully staffed. Officers are assigned to every secondary campus and we utilize a geographic cluster approach to monitoring all elementary campuses. Our police department is able to communicate with all local law enforcement agencies.”

Parent Question: “In the event of an emergency, how may a student or teacher trapped in a classroom reach emergency responders without a personal cell phone? Many of the latest incidents indicate that teachers or students used a personal cell phone to contact first responders. Lack of wealth should not reduce the options available for those in need.”

NISD Answer: Classroom phones and personal devices are the means of communication with first responders.”

Parent Question: Northside has only ‘1 officer for each cluster’ of elementary school, knowing what we know now about the failures that happened in Uvalde, will they add a permanent peace officer to each campus and will they be equipped with shields, long guns and gear? (2) we have only chain link fences, we now know that isn’t enough, when will they put in reinforced metal fences? (3) will Northside participate in the “Unannounced active shooter drills” I am from Uvalde and I am deeply disturbed by this, have some strange person come to the school and try to get in by any means necessary should not be done in the presence of children during the school year. That needs to be done outside of school hours to no traumatize children like mine who know many of the Uvalde victims. I can tell you they aren’t ready for that and I know that will cause psychological trauma. (4) when will Northside change all the small windows in the doors to bullet proof glass? Bullet proof glass is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. Elementary schools and the most vulnerable targets all school districts need to accept and recognize this. We cannot continue to live as if it won’t happen again. Why does something have to happen for schools to protect the children?”

NISD Answer: NISD is reviewing additional safety initiatives to address some of the concerns/questions you pose. As any of those are finalized and/or implemented, changes will be announced and shared with our community.”

San Antonio ISD

Parent Question: “With the campus being an open campus and my teen taking college courses with everyone else. How will my child be safe. Will drills be held with everyone from college and the high school?” (St. Philip’s Early College HS)

SAISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question: “Will there be police officers at school daily?”

SAISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Parent Question: “Are they going back to uniforms? Is the principal they’re going to follow the school handbook or make her own rules and allow them to dress however they feel like and not face consequences for any types of actions?” (Brackenridge HS)

SAISD Answer: (still waiting for response)

Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD

Parent Question: “How is my child going to stay safe? There are no locked doors, no searching bags, and little to no discipline.”

Parent Question: Is there anything being done differently with the safety of our children at school?”

SCUCISD Answer: “We expect to share any new safety initiatives with our staff and parents after the superintendent discusses it with the school board. An announcement should come out early next week on this.”

South San ISD

Parent Question: “What kind of security will be placed at the school? How can we go about trying to get all day security at the front door?”

SSISD Answer: “Our Police Department is currently looking to fill more positions, so our officers who are at the campuses will be observing the entire perimeter and won’t be able to be stationed at the front door the entire time. However, our exterior doors are locked and will only be opened when the campus front desk buzzes individuals in.”

Parent Question: Are clear and mesh backpacks required?”

SSISD Answer: “SSAISD students do not have requirements on what backpacks they can bring to campus.”

Southwest ISD

Parent Question: “Will there be an officer at the school at all times during school hours? Will doors be locked at all times? Will they be checking every adult in at the door before entering school? Will classroom doors be locked during sessions?”

SWISD Answer: “Yes, we will have a police presence daily. Yes, doors will be locked at all times. Yes and yes.”

Parent Question Will there be new security measures taken to protect students from possible mass shooters? Is the district working with BCSO to be prepared if a situation arises? Are the staff especially counselors trained in identifying mental health issues that could lead to a school shooting? Will Covid-19 precautions be in place?”

SWISD Answer: “In addition to continuing to follow the Safe Schools Standard Response Protocol, we are implementing access control card entry points at campuses for staff and law enforcement and will continue with active shooter and threat assessment training for staff at each campus. Yes, we are partnering with BCSO, SAPD, and DPS. Yes, our staff and counselors are trained to identify mental health issues and have also received threat assessment training. We will have precautions in place per CDC guidelines.”

More back-to-school resources on KSAT.

About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.