Ysleta ISD applies for TEA waiver to delay in-person learning

Officials with the Ysleta Independent School District announced Thursday evening that the district had submitted a waiver to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to request a delay of in-person learning at campuses based on information from local health authorities that shows an increase in the numbers of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, among other data.

“We are being very deliberate and thoughtful about the start of in-person learning because the last thing we want to do is speculate – or believe that we can predict – what the public health data will look like on any given date in the coming weeks,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Xavier De La Torre.

“The only thing we can respond to is the data, and we have already defined which metrics must be in place in order for students and teachers to return,” Dr. De La Torre said. “We are using these established metrics as a foundation to guide us toward the start of Face-to-Face Learning.”

The move comes a day after most of the area’s districts applied for the same type of waiver through the TEA.

The district will now await word from TEA on whether it will approve the waiver, which allows for a delay to reopen campuses to families that opt for children to participate in Face-To-Face Learning at our school sites.

The metrics can be found on Ysleta ISD’s “COVID-19 Activity Level Indicators” webpage. They can be accessed by visiting www.yisd.net and scrolling down to the YISD Spotlight section, then clicking on the “COVID-19 Activity Level” icon. The metrics are listed under the “Activity Level Indicators” chart.

When the school year began in August, Ysleta ISD was allowed to begin Face-to-Face Learning at schools if it met two of the following three TEA-approved metrics:

  • The average number of new daily COVID-19 cases must be under 25 per 100,000.
  • The seven-day average percentage of COVID-positive tests must be under 7.5%.
  • Steady decline in the seven-day rolling average of positive cases over the past 14 days.

This week, the metrics were updated and a fourth was added because Gov. Greg Abbott uses this as a threshold to determine whether an area is experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 hospital utilization:

  • The average number of new daily COVID-19 cases must be under 25 per 100,000
  • The seven-day average percentage of COVID-positive tests must be under 10%.
  •  Decrease in the seven-day rolling average of new cases over the prior two weeks.
  • Average percentage of COVID-19 hospitalizations over one week must be under 15%.

District officials share that, in order for Ysleta ISD to begin Face-to-Face Learning on campus, three of these four metrics provided by the City of El Paso must be met for two consecutive weeks.

As of October 7, Ysleta ISD does not meet any of the four metrics and is in “Code Red” status.

When the district meets three of four metrics and enters “Code Yellow” status, it will advise staff and parents that schools will open the Monday after entering Code Yellow.

“As always, our No. 1 priority is the safety of students and staff,” Dr. De La Torre said. “I look forward to the day when we have all students back in our schools, so we can do what we do best: Provide a superior educational program that prepares students for college, career, community, and the military.”

Ysleta ISD encourages all students, parents, and staff continue to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19.

For more information,  visit the district’s website and click on the “Ask the District” tab on the right-hand side of the page.