RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (KVEO) — After a year of virtual instruction, school districts across the Rio Grande Valley are returning to campus. 

“We have been required by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), as everyone else in the state, to open our doors 100% to our students,” said Adrian Ozuna, Public Information Officer for Rio Grande City Grulla Independent School District.

In an effort to keep their students and staff protected against COVID-19 and the Delta strain, Ozuna said they have been preparing for their return to school.

“We’ve been installing and we’re going to finish installing the touch-free systems in all of our campuses,” he said.

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise, and now the Delta variant present in the RGV, Ozuna said certain safety protocols can only be recommended under TEA guidelines. 

“We cannot require mask usage but we strongly encourage it. We want to make sure that everyone knows and we want to let our students know and our staff that we strongly encourage and recommend continuing using their mask,” he said.

Ozuna added this means they are stepping up their sanitation and other safety measures across all school campuses. For parents who are unsure about sending their kids back to school, Ozuna said he understands their concerns.

“If a parent obviously doesn’t want to come into school we cannot force them so it’s up to them to figure out how they want to educate their children,” he said.

Under TEA guidelines, Ozuna said they can no longer offer remote instruction and while he wishes they could, that decision would come directly from TEA. In order to keep everyone safe, Ozuna is encouraging vaccinations. 

“Vaccines are readily available in case students do want to, our older students,” he said.

Other school districts, such as McAllen ISD, said they are encouraging face masks and encourage parents to screen their children before sending them to school. 

KVEO is working on getting instruction plans from other school districts, many of which are releasing them within the next week.