ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene ISD Superintendent Dr. David Young says district leaders are currently drafting their reopening plans for the 2021-2022 school year as COVID-19 remains a threat to student and staff health.

In a monthly media briefing Tuesday, Dr. Young said exact plans for virus prevention on campuses were not yet set in stone. Administrators will first consult with local health experts before sharing their plans, which must be shared by July 28 in order for the district to remain eligible for ESSER COVID relief funds from the federal government.

“We’ll be participating in a meeting next Monday with the local health department and several other medical professionals about just kind of the current landscape with respect to Abilene, Texas and beyond,” said Dr. Young.

Per an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott, school districts cannot mandate mask-wearing on campuses – this was a main feature of preventing virus spread at AISD last school year.

Dr. Young says he trusts state leaders to amend the order if virus circumstances change dramatically over the course of the academic calendar.

“I believe the people that are making the decisions are going to have the best information that they have,” Dr. David Young.

In the same media briefing, the superintendent shared the district would participate in the USDA’s extended seamless summer meal option.

Thus providing free breakfasts and lunch to all AISD students. The extension of the program is federally funded.

“We are excited to offer this opportunity to our students,” said Dr. Young. “We will still be collecting meal program applications like we normally do just because that’s important to us for other things like PEIMS reporting.”

The new school year also brings new names to Abilene schools formerly named for Confederate leaders. The names of the schools were approved to be revised after a large public outcry starting last fall. Dr. Young says the official new dedications of the campuses will proceed next month.

“Changing letterheads, faculty t-shirts, and school songs. We are excited about the dedication of Stafford, Purcell, and Alcorta elementary schools,” said Dr. Young.

The 2021-2022 school year begins Aug. 19.