ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Independent School District Board of Trustees met Thursday to discuss health and safety protocols for the 2021-22 school year. The meeting was a workshop where items where discussed and no action was taken.
District leaders say some things will be similar to last year, such as screening protocols for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 testing, sanitizing classrooms, social distancing and hand hygiene.
One thing will be different however – they can’t require students or faculty to wear masks, although they say they will strongly encourage them to.
Superintendent Dr. David Young says contact tracing is not required, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidance for school districts that was delivered Thursday. Young said the district is still studying its contact tracing protocols and what those will be when school starts on Aug. 19. The board will get another look at updated AISD health and safety protocols at next Monday night’s regular meeting.
Classes will be in-person this year, but instead of remote learning, students who are forced to quarantine will have access to what they called “remote conferencing.” Each student is allotted 20 days of remote conferencing for the year.
Dr. Young says they could use ESSER funds for remote learning, but the difficult issue is that “it can’t be done by the same teachers that are doing the in-person instruction, that’s prohibited.”
Although they would prefer not to do it that way anyway, Dr. Young said staffing issues basically prevent them from being able to do so.
If a student who has been fully vaccinated comes in close contact with someone who then tests positive, they will not be considered to have been in close contact because of their vaccination status.
District leaders also say staff members will not have 10 days of COVID leave this year, so if they contract the virus, they will be sent home to quarantine and will be required to use personal time for their absence.
To see the full meeting, watch the attached video.