DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As students get ready to return to school amid another surge in the pandemic, it is uncertain, in many cases, what plans are in place to protect them.
The CDC said Tuesday, July 27, schools are an area with a high risk of transmission.
“CDC recommends that everyone in K to 12 schools wear a mask indoors” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Despite the CDC’s new recommendation, Governor Abbott months ago barred districts from requiring anyone to wear a mask.
Teachers’ unions, including the Texas State Teachers Association and Alliance AFT, are asking he reconsider.
“Let’s take every precaution necessary and that would include masking up,” said George Rangel, executive vice president for Alliance AFT Dallas.
Many school districts say they’re still finalizing plans for how to respond to a positive COVID-19 case, including who will be required to quarantine and for how long.
The Texas Education Agency requires only that a school notify its local and state health departments.
The TEA is also not issuing waivers this year that would allow schools to receive funding for students attending remotely, causing at least a dozen North Texas districts to alter their plans.
Two Texas districts, Round Rock ISD and Austin ISDs, have chosen to offer virtual learning anyway.
“When they tie your hands at the legislative level, it’s difficult to make decisions at the lower level,” said Rangel. He said Alliance AFT has asked Dallas ISD about its plan worried what will happen in the event of an outbreak.
Asked if it would be disruptive to have students miss two weeks of school without any virtual learning, he said it would “very disruptive.”
“If we don’t’ have those alternatives in place now, it’s going to be too late when something does happen,” said Rangel.
Dallas ISD Tuesday evening said it would have a remote option available for students who test positive for COVID “to ensure continuity of instruction”.
Fort Worth ISD said it will ask anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and those who have been in close proximity to quarantine, though it will leave the decision of how long to medical experts.
If a quarantine period exceeds two weeks, virtual learning may be an option, said a FWISD spokesperson.
Arlington ISD said it will announce its plans next week.