Comal ISD’s Five Bexar County Campuses to Reopen Aug. 25 After Paxton Rules Educators Call the Shots
Five Comal ISD schools located in Bexar County will now reopen to on-campus instruction on Aug. 25 along with all other schools in Comal County, Supt. Andrew Kim told parents in an email yesterday.
Kim’s decision came just hours after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Tuesday issued guidance that educators, not city and county health officials, get to call the shots on whether to close or open schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paxton’s letter invalidated a July 17 decision by San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health Department to close Bexar County schools through Labor Day.
San Antonio’s order would have resulted in a nine-day delay of on-campus instruction for Comal ISD’s Indian Springs, Kinder Ranch, Specht and Timberwood Park elementary schools and Pieper Ranch Middle School.
In his email Kim, a vocal critic of that decision, thanked state leaders for bringing clarity to the issue of school reopenings and said the district is working with local health directors to identify any local spread of the virus, including improved contact tracking by the county.
The district also will craft metrics related to the safe opening and closing of individual campuses, he said, adding Comal ISD will ask health experts for their feedback on the district’s draft School Launch Strategic Plan. The plan’s guiding principles are ‘back to normal,’ ‘ownership of wellness,’ ‘response to cases’, and ‘communication.’
“We believe the ability to have all of our campuses on the same start schedule will help us from a logistical standpoint, while still giving parents a choice as we prepare for on-campus instruction and remote learning.” –Supt. Andrew Kim
Comal ISD will continue to offer remote learning for families who would like to keep their children at home until they are more comfortable returning back to the on-campus location, Kim said in the email.
“We believe the ability to have all of our campuses on the same start schedule will help us from a logistical standpoint, while still giving parents a choice as we prepare for on-campus instruction and remote learning,” he said.
Comal ISD Spokesperson Steve Stanford could not immediately provide further information about how the district plans to craft or develop new metrics for reporting on COVID-19. MyCanyonLake.com has reached out to county officials for more information about improved contact-tracking methods and changes to the metrics it reports in daily press releases.
Boerne ISD, which also has campuses in Bexar County, thanked Paxton “for having confidence in BISD and school districts across Texas to execute our Back to Scho0ol plans.”
Also on Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency said school districts could lose state funding if they decide to shut down campuses based on the authority of local health officials alone.
San Antonio Says No to Reopening Schools
San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Public Relations Manager Michelle Vigil said Medical Director Junda Woo will issue new “school indicators” for Bexar County next week.
“We have shared information with all nearby counties who may have schools who are also located in Bexar County,” she said. “As always Metro Health is glad to assist surrounding counties who seek guidance.”
Woo said on July 18 that schools present a higher risk for the spread of COVID 19 due to their confined spaces and the challenges of getting children to follow social-distancing and hygiene guidelines.
Comal ISD Provides Online Resources for Parents
On July 8, Kim announced the creation of an online Comal Parent Center to help parents make non-binding ‘commitments’ about how to educate their children as COVID-19 cases continue to rise dramatically. On that site are weekly podcasts on topics like school operations, instruction, student schedules, extracurricular activities and more. Comal ISD also is posting live video ‘vlogs’ featuring Kim and campus administrators talking about decisions affecting the 2020-21 school year.
According to the website, Comal ISD said it remains committed to providing students the opportunity to attend school and receive on-campus instruction.
“While there will certainly be some changes in the way campuses operate due to COVID-19, our goal is for the on-campus experience for students to mirror previous years as closely as possible,” the district said.