Friday evening, Department of Public Health officials issued recommendations for the upcoming academic year 2021-2022 for all School Districts and Private Schools in the region.
“We continue to collaborate closely with schools, public and private, providing recommendations that will make this upcoming school year a safe, healthy and successful one. School districts are working hard to improve their safety plans to continue protecting their students, teachers, and staff,” said City-County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza.
“We also know the benefits of in-person instruction are numerous, to include improved neurodevelopmental skills, social and psychological development of our children. But we need adults and eligible adolescents to get the vaccine as soon as possible and for all to continue practicing prevention such as using a face cover, practice social distancing, and making it a habit to frequently wash your hands.”
The detailed recommendations, which are subject to revisions, can be found at EPStrong.org under the Orders tab and are broken down by three levels of education: Elementary, Middle and High School. The recommendations also include information for students with special medical needs and school bus requirements.
As a reminder, public schools are subject to follow policies from their school board and from the Texas Education Agency.
Private schools also follow rules and regulations from their governing board and consider the Department of Public Health recommendations to determine their best course of action.
- Vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine or test for COVID-19 unless they become symptomatic within 14 days after a high-risk exposure.
- Fully vaccinated individuals may also choose not to wear a face mask.
- Unvaccinated individuals will need to be quarantined, tested, and strongly recommended to wear a face mask.
- Physical distancing between elementary school children will no longer be required, but hygiene and other interventions such as isolation of sick children and the use of a face mask for unvaccinated children are recommended.
- Distancing of at least 3 feet between desks continues to be recommended for Middle and High School, if feasible, within classrooms’ physical space.
Below are some of the guidelines listed on the public health recommendations for a safe return to school:
Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
It is essential that teachers and staff working with children be vaccinated against COVID-19 to considerably reduce the risk of infection and prevent outbreaks and complications among vulnerable children.
Face Masks Strongly Recommended
The use of face masks will not be discouraged for those students whose parents choose for them to wear them; however, it is strongly recommended for unvaccinated adults to wear a face mask while caring for students.
The federal government has mandated the use of a face mask while riding on mass transit vehicles, including school buses.
Distancing between children, teachers and aids may not be feasible, but it is recommended to keep the same students and staff in the classroom to reduce the risk of infection. Maintaining pods of children and teachers as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy within the layered safety plan of schools has proven to be an effective practice.
For a detailed list of recommendations for elementary, middle school and high school students see the “Health Order” posted online.
For our complete coverage of COVID-19, click here.