HARLINGEN, Texas – While many schools across the state are beginning their virtual instruction, one private school in Harlingen is having face to face instruction.
Calvary Christian Academy opened its doors to staff and students after challenging the county for their right to reopen as a religious private school.
Cameron County’s August 10 ruling stated that schools would not be able to open for in person instruction until September 28, and that included private schools.
CBS 4 was contacted by First Liberty Institute August 18, saying they were representing the Laguna Madre Christian Academy in their efforts to reopen. Later, August 20, they reached out again saying they would be representing Calvary Christian School as well.
Special Counsel for First Liberty Institute, Jeremy Dys, told CBS 4 that the county had no right to keep the schools from reopening for in-person instruction.
“That is inconsistent with not only the previous executive order in place by Governor Abbott but also the guidance that’s been issued to private schools, private religious schools in particular, by Attorney General Ken Paxton,” said Dys in an August 18 interview.
By September 4, Cameron County had allowed both schools to follow through with their plans on reopening.
“We asked them for their plans to see if they were in compliance with CDC guidelines and thankfully after some conversation, some exchange of information and review by our health authority Dr. Castillo, we felt comfortable, not necessarily in agreement, but comfortable issuing some exceptions or waivers allowing these schools, which were much smaller in numbers, to go ahead and open,” said Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino.
After 20 years of working at Calvary Christian school as a teacher, Jan Leibert is leading the school’s face to face reopening as their principal and making sure new rules are being followed.
“We have put in a lot of hand sanitizing stations, times for the kids to wash their hands especially, on their desks they have shields, six feet of distance between people, different procedures like that,” said Leibert.
The school is now operating, following protocol set in place by the TEA and CDC hoping to keep its 180 students and staff as safe as possible.
“I mean they’re kids, they’re going to get a little close. But they understand that they want to be at school, and to be at school we’ve got to have certain procedures,” said Leibert.
Leibert said that new rules do not facilitate the family atmosphere they wish to cultivate at the school but are grateful for now that they are open.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how God works in all these students lives, in all these family’s lives, to help them to grow and trust him more each day even during difficult times,” said Leibert.