While many schools across the nation are still virtual only, schools here in San Antonio have had the in-person option since September. And for those who don’t feel safe sending their students back to school (or simply refuse to have their students wear a mask) our school district also offers virtual school (in both synchronous and asynchronous options) as they try to accommodate everyone.
In order to be in-person, students and teachers must wear a mask and try to maintain social distancing. Hand sanitizer is encouraged, and deep cleanings happen daily.
At the beginning of March, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced he was lifting our state-wide mask mandate. Each business could decide for themselves if they want to require masks. The Texas Education Agency also decided that school districts could make their own decisions on the mask issue. Our district decided to keep requiring masks at the school as they had done for the past six months.
Actually, most businesses here have kept the mask mandate. In all the stores I’ve been in that are near my house, I always see people still wearing masks. Only when I was at a store by my parents’ house did I see a few unmasked people even though the store had a mask required sign at the door.
Many people still want the masks as the rate of vaccinating adults has been slow. Over our Spring break they opened it up to teachers and anyone over 50 years old. As of today (just two weeks later), anyone over 16 years old can get the vaccine. But there are still many older people and those with chronic conditions that haven’t been vaccinated or are still waiting for their second shot. And kids can’t be vaccinated so in my book I can see the district keeping the mask mandate through the end of this school year.
But then I received this email about a special district school board meeting on April 5 to discuss the district’s COVID protocols including mask wearing and end of the year activities. They claim no decision will be made; This is merely a presentation by district staff and medical experts as well as community feedback.
I’ve already sent them an email with my thoughts. I don’t know if masks work, but I know the students and teachers have done well with them and our COVID rates in the schools have been very low. I see no reason to change – even if the city is at an all time low with COVID cases. We have just 9 weeks left of school. I really do see no reason to change what has already been working.
As for the end of the year activities, this is harder. I hate that so many of them were cancelled last year and probably will be cancelled this year. Our kids look forward to these activities. And I think with modifications some of them – award ceremonies and graduations – can go on. But others – prom, 5th/8th/senior parties – probably are very hard to have with mask wearing and social distancing protocols in place and with the current no parent volunteers allowed on campus.
Now, anyone who reads my blog knows I am not overly worried about COVID. I’ve been to the beach, Disney World and pretty regularly eat out with friends and family. But I try to take into account what others think and feel. I know that many people have more concerns about COVID. Many teachers retired when the students went to in-person learning. I want to keep the teachers, staff and students safe. What we do next school year may be totally different, but knowing where we are now with vaccinations and how well our schools have done, I see no reason to change anything in the next 9 weeks. Only time will tell if the district agrees.
I really think the schools should keep them, at least through the end of this year. Our schools are doing hybrid learning with masks, and it seems to be going well. Hubby and I are now vaccinated and our 16 year old will be soon. That’s 3/5 of the household, and it feels good!