County curfew lifted
With the local order stopping the start of in-campus instruction until after Sept. 27 ending, the Hidalgo County Health Authority has amended his original order to recommend delaying in-person learning for another month.
On Friday, Hidalgo County Health Authority Ivan Melendez issued anew health orders aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic locally by delaying on-campus instruction until at least Sunday, Oct. 25.
Unlike the previous order, public and private schools in Hidalgo County will be encouraged to follow this guidance. Under the original July order, schools were mandated to not start on-campus learning until after Sept. 27.
“In addition, Dr. Melendez is strongly encouraging that school-sponsored activities, including sports, also be delayed until at least October 25,” the county said in a news release. “Dr. Melendez also said that schools that return to on-campus instruction are required to report to health officials any student infection of COVID-19 and requires the school campus to close any area the affected student may have frequented.”
Schools that do reopen must provide county health officials with a reopening plan, the release stated.
Several school districts in the area are already in ongoing transition plans to reopen their doors to students within the next few weeks and are starting their athletic fall season on Monday.
The recommended order comes as the county continues to see a decrease in the amount of COVID-19 cases in the area. On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency announced in new guidance for school districts that Rio Grande Valley schools will have the option to extend their transition period into on-campus instruction by another month.
The countywide curfew, meanwhile will no longer be in effect, County Judge Richard F. Cortez said in separate orders he signed on Friday.
Both orders are predicated on an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott last week that relaxed state restrictions in most areas of Texas except for the Rio Grande Valley, and the Laredo and Victoria areas based on continued high hospitalization rates in those regions.
The local orders by Judge Cortez and Dr. Melendez go into effect one minute after midnight on Monday, Sept. 28 and remain in effect until one minute before midnight on Sunday, Oct. 25.
“Because of a backlog of state information, the daily updates that we are recording are accurate but they do not reflect the most up to date numbers,” Judge Cortez said in a statement. “Hospital rates are dropping and the only reason that’s happening is because so much of the community has modified its behavior. The fact that people are being more cautious gives me the freedom to lift the curfew so that people have more flexibility in their lives as long as they remain cautious.”
Among the safety measures Judge Cortez has decided to keep in effect are:
- Requiring facial coverings when people are inside commercial buildings when six feet of physical distancing is not feasible.
- All businesses operating within Hidalgo County shall have a maximum capacity of 50 percent of its listed occupancy.
- Event organizers are limited to 50 percent capacity at indoor venues and there are no limits for outdoor events provided that seating is limited to groups of no more than ten people.