HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — School starts for some students in the Rio Grande Valley as soon as Monday. Other students start in just a few weeks.
The Texas Education Agency released new COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday, and local health authorities say it has them concerned.
“These guidelines are basically giving freedom to schools to not do certain things,” said Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillio. “It just seems that it’s a shame that a lot of these rules are not making it easy to do the right thing.”
According to the TEA guidelines, schools do not have to perform contact tracing for COVID-19 cases on campus. Schools also have an option to notify parents about positive cases.
Dr. Castillio says all schools within Cameron County have been reporting COVID-19 cases to the County Health Department, and has confidence they will continue to do so.
“I have no doubt that all of our local schools will do everything they in their power to keep kids safe at school.,” Dr. Castillo said. “That means contact tracing and wearing masks as much as you can.”
Local school districts like San Benito CISD say they will continue to contact trace and notify parents about COVID-19 cases on campus.
“We will no longer be sending out the general campus-wide notification, but we will continue to notify parents for those students who come in close contact with someone who has COVID-19,” said San Benito CISD Superintend Dr. Nate Carman.
The TEA also states that parents still have the option to send their kids to school even though they may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Dr. Carman says he hopes parents at San Benito CISD will take the safer option.
“Our parents are responsible, and I feel that they will make the best decision based on the situation for their child,” Carman said.
Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez says all 22 school districts within the county have also been reporting COVID-19 cases. But he has a strong suggestion for parents.
“So once again the key to all to all these policies really is where the rubber hits road is that we have to get all the people around the kids vaccinated,” Dr. Melendez said.