Edgewood Independent School District is one of two area districts that will seek a waiver to delay on-campus instruction until October.
Edgewood Independent School District is one of two area districts that will seek a waiver to delay on-campus instruction until October. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Edgewood Independent School District became the second school system in San Antonio to postpone on-campus instruction until October. Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to seek a waiver from the Texas Education Agency that would give EISD the flexibility to keep campuses closed for the first eight weeks of the school year.

The TEA allows districts to automatically delay opening campuses up to the first four weeks of the school year. If districts want to extend this delay an additional four weeks, they must get board approval, apply for a waiver from the state agency, and state what health metrics would need to be in place for campuses to reopen safely.

For Edgewood campuses to safely reopen, the count of COVID-19 cases in Bexar County must show steady declines of at least 10 percent for four consecutive weeks and the positivity rate of coronavirus tests must be under 5 percent for four consecutive weeks.

Over the week of July 26, the positivity rate in Bexar County was 14.8 percent. The number of COVID-19 cases increased week-over-week by about 7 percent from the week of July 20 to the week of July 26.

If these conditions are met sooner than October, campuses could reopen early. Otherwise, the earliest Edgewood students can be back on campus is the week of Oct. 12. At that time, families will still have the option to keep their students home and participate in remote learning. View Edgewood’s back-to-school plan here.

“This will help us to facilitate a safe and effective back-to-school transition and it will help us to finalize all the plans [for school reopening],” said Myrna Martinez Edgewood ISD chief of staff.

South San Antonio ISD trustees were the first to vote to keep instruction remote-only for the first eight weeks of the school year. At a July 22 meeting, trustees voted unanimously to push back campus openings until eight weeks into the school year, which starts Aug. 12. The earliest that South San students could be allowed on campus would be the week of Oct. 5. View South San’s back-to-school plan here.

“Our community, our staff, and our teachers have spoken loud and clear, and we have sent a collective message that safety is everything and that we are desiring local control to make the safe decisions, the wise decisions, the compassionate decisions for our children and teachers and staff moving forward,” said Marc Puig, South San Antonio ISD superintendent.

South San ISD officials outlined some necessary conditions to open their campuses earlier in their waiver. The district will work with local health officials to conduct a comprehensive review of daily new cases and related data, including the seven-day rolling average of new cases. The seven-day average of new cases was 760 as of Aug. 3.

Districts can only keep instruction campuses closed for these eight weeks if each student has adequate access to the internet and devices needed to complete remote instruction. Officials from both Edgewood and South San independent school districts told trustees all students would be able to participate in remote instruction.

Previously, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District prohibited on-campus instruction before Labor Day, but after State guidance shifted, Metro Health rescinded that order. The majority of San Antonio-area school districts still plan to delay opening their campuses until after Labor Day.

In a statement last week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced districts could receive permission to delay opening campuses if they believe it is needed. However, TEA officials had no further information on what districts would need to do to secure State permission for further delays.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.