KELLER, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – New details have emerged after it was learned Friday that there was a possible COVID-19 exposure at Keller ISD’s special board meeting on Monday, Aug. 3.
The meeting was to discuss the prevention of the virus in schools, and now, less than a week later, those in attendance are being asked to quarantine themselves after one speaker tested positive.
But one North Texas parent is saying it could have been prevented.
John Sempeles was one of dozens of speakers at the special board meeting. He said it was his only option if he wanted to be heard.
“They had this session to hear people’s concerns, but they did not let them provide them electronically. Which I thought was very wrong. They allowed it at a previous meeting, but they didn’t at this one,” Sempeles said.
According to online agendas, the district required this meeting’s public comments to be in person, as opposed to offering an online submission option like in previous meetings.
The agenda stated, “Speakers may sign up for public comment at the meeting location prior to the time the meeting is convened.”
“I can’t speak to their thought process, or the reason why they did it. I just know the result which was less voices would be heard that really wanted to be heard,” Sempeles said.
Sempeles is a Keller ISD parent, who spoke on behalf of his friend — an immune-compromised teacher who couldn’t risk showing up.
“She was scared. She wanted to have her voice heard but she could not be there in person so I went there to be there and represent their voice,” he said.
Sempeles says they did their best to social distance but it wasn’t enough. Most speakers took off their masks when giving their two cents, and not a word was said about it.
“There were only a few I think that actually wore the mask at the podium. A lot of them came up, had their mask on, and would take it off,” he said. “Assuming one of the speakers had it and every person who came up to the podium got it, it was probably in the numbers of 40 at least.”
He says he can’t help but wonder if the virus can’t be prevented at a school meeting, how it can possibly be prevented in classrooms.
“How are we gonna do drills, how are we gonna do stop in place? How when they are passing in the halls? How are they going to keep the busses clean? None of those questions were being answered sufficiently from what I was hearing from the teachers,” he said.
The district says it immediately began contact tracing and letting speakers know of the exposure.
Despite all of this, Sempeles says if he had to do it again, he would want to make sure the voices of teachers are heard.
The district is recommending those in attendance to quarantine until at least Aug. 18.
At the meeting, the Keller ISD Board of Trustees voted to begin school on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Parents will still have the option of having their children take part in virtual or in-person learning.