Plans for the school year have taken an abrupt shift, as the Gonzales Independent School District announced a return to campus at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Sept. 14.
All students will be expected to return to campus Tuesday, Sept. 22. If they do not, they will be counted absent, according to GISD PR Director Robin Trojack.
The only safety and hygiene protocols which have been adjusted since the beginning of the year on Aug. 24 are required masks for children below the age of 10. While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has previously said that children 10 and under do not need to wear masks, Trojack said the district decided to have all students wear masks.
“It's easier for us to have everybody consistent across the board,” Trojack said. “Overall we haven't had much issues.”
Students will continue to be expected to wear masks, and district nurse Alyssa Hagan suggests parents start practicing wearing masks if they haven’t been up to this point.
“if they're not used to wearing one, and they're going to have to wear one here, I think practicing talking with it and wearing it around the house,” Hagan said. “If they have been remote learners, they're not wearing a mask, they're not going to be used to it. So you know, maybe now starting to have the child start wearing the mask, it's good.”
To arrange transportation for students, parents are asked to either contact the transportation department or their campus for more information. Other questions, regarding specifics about mask breaks, lunch procedures and general adjustments students will be making as they go back on campus can be directed to those individual campuses.
For parents who would prefer to keep their children at home as remote learners, the process of going before a committee of campus and district administrators, nurses and counselors will not begin until after students have returned. Trojack said holistic information regarding the academic progress, discipline and attendance record of students will impact the committee’s decision, and Hagan said it will come down to whether or not a student has a diagnosed medical condition established as a high-risk group for COVID-19.
“It's going to be a committee decision,” Trojack said. “It's more or less going to be the medical condition of that child. A lot of it has to go back to the data, what occurred in the past prior year. We’ll also be looking at what's taking place, what kind of guidelines or stipulations they're doing as well at home, are they not going to H-E-B either or they're not going to other functions. We're trying to get back to normalcy, and unfortunately, this is part of our normal routine now.”
Hagan said Superintendent John Schumacher was correct when he said that no cases of COVID-19 had been found in the district, but that there were two classrooms which were self-contained after a possible exposure. It was determined that only one of these classrooms had been at risk of exposure, but that the student had already left the campus.
“One class I think turned out not to be, it was fine,” Hagan said. “And then another one had a student to test it but outside of school, they were not in school, per se, they were already home away from the class. It was just precautionary that we kept them together.”