Citing an “alarming” rise in the amount of local COVID-19 cases, the Mission school district is turning to the county judge to advocate for them to keep the district closed in the next school year.
During a Friday emergency school board meeting, trustees with the Mission school district unanimously approved a resolution to request Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez advocate state Gov. Greg Abbott for the school district to keep the school district closed and only offer in-person learning to students with special needs and children of essential workers in the next school.
The district, like others around the nation, has been closed since the spring due to the CVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on what we have been seeing these last few weeks, we as a school board have had a dialogue looking at the statistics and we knew the situation was not going to be stabilizing,” MCISD Superintendent Dr. Carolina “Carol” Perez said Friday. “We need to think and be responsive to the needs of our community, especially our students, staff and family.”
The meeting occurred the day after the county reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases and fatalities-1,274 and 20-respectively.
The meeting was in response to the Texas Education Agency announcing last month that all school districts in the state must provide in-person learning to students, and provide to parents the option of distant learning should parents choose to not bring their children to school.
Earlier this month, the TEA released a series of guidelines to school districts on how to provide in-person instruction to students during the pandemic.
“It’s the same as the recommendations the CDC has provided such as promoting social distancing and hygiene practices, things we had already been doing, “Perez said of the guidelines. “However, based on the alarming numbers of positive cases, we know that that is not enough to make sure our children, staff and families remain safe and the TEA has not issued anything specific on certain recommendations on school districts that are in the eye of hot spots in terms of COVID-19 infections.”
According to Perez, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has had weekly meetings with superintendents from around the state and has repeatedly told them that the decision on school closures rests upon the state governor and county judge.
So now the Mission school district is turning to county Judge Cortez for help.
“Only the governor has the option of closing campuses again and the only way we can convince him to let us close the campus is if we have advocacy and no one knows better than the county judge as to what is going on in Hidalgo County.,” Perez said. “He will be the best individual to appeal to the governor to assist us.”
According to Perez, Mission parents filled out a survey earlier this summer asking them how comfortable they feel about the district reopening for the next school. 40 percent responded that they’d feel comfortable sending their children back to their campuses next month.
“Well that is going to be very difficult based on the environment we are in right now,” Perez said, adding that the district will send out the survey to parents again next month to see if they feel the same. “It’ll probably change to half of those parents feeling comfortable with in-person instruction.”
A request for comment from the county was unreturned as of Friday evening.