MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — Texas schools will re-open their doors this Fall and the state is letting parents decide whether or not to send their child.
On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency announced the state will not require students to wear face masks or be tested for COVID-19 when schools open.
However, some school districts will be requiring students and staff to wear them when attending in-person class.
“We’re going to take all the precautions that we can to safeguard the well being of all of our kids,” said Blanca Cantu, a spokeswoman for La Joya I.S.D., “We will require face masks for all of our kids as a safety precaution we want to make sure all of our kids are healthy and our classrooms are safe as well.”
Most Rio Grande Valley School districts will also be giving parents the option to send their kids to school or let them study from home.
“Parents will have the option to choose if they want to send their kid in person or if they want to keep them at home remotely, nonetheless both models will be safely planned with our district and they’ll get the same quality of education,” said Cantu.
McAllen I.S.D. will also be giving parents the option to stay distance learning or bring their children in.
The district won’t be mandating face masks, but are encouraging them.
“We’re going to highly recommend that everyone wear face coverings, I’m not so sure based on what we’re hearing if we’re going to be able to mandate it, but we have great students, staff and supportive parents and I believe that we won’t have an issue with them bringing masks,” said Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, Superintendent of McAllen I.S.D.
But how many valley students will actually be returning to campus?
Both districts did a survey asking parents and both results came back nearly split in half.
“We did put out a survey a couple of weeks ago, at this point was have 7,302 responses,” said Dr. Gonzalez, “48% of parents say they will bring the students to traditional school, 36% will choose distance learning and 18% are undecided.”
With less than 50% of McAllen students saying they will be attending, this leaves more space for social distancing at campuses.
“You can already see that only 48% are saying they’re going to come,” said Dr. Gonzalez, “So a school with 1,000 kids will now only have 500, so it’s going to have a lot smaller student to teacher ratio.”
Both districts say they are working out sanitation plans for buses, cafeterias, libraries and classrooms to ensure the only thing spreading at school should be knowledge.
Several other districts say they will be giving parents the options as well.
A spokeswoman for PSJA I.S.D. tells KVEO, “Our team is currently working diligently to have options available that continue to promote the health and safety of students, teachers and staff. Whether a family chooses to join us physically or virtually, our mission of educating our students continues as we transition to this new frontier in public education.”
Harlingen C.I.S.D. also released a letter today saying in part, “Our goal is a normal return to school with enhanced instructional, cleaning, and health protocols, including daily health screenings, multiple drop off/pick up locations, required face coverings, increased handwashing and sanitizing stations, and modified instructional settings.”