SAN ELIZARIO, Texas (KTSM)–On a day where El Paso County officials announced more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases and 853 hospitalizations, some local districts required faculty and staff to return to work in person.
San Elizario ISD and Clint ISD faculty and staff returned to work in person while most students continue working remotely. Jeannie Meza-Chavez, the San Elizario ISD Superintendent, said only students with internet issues and other special circumstances are on campus, otherwise all continue remotely.
An anonymous San Elizario staff member said it was the timing that worries them.
“If I’m unable to work from home I’m really considering resigning at this point,” the staff member said.
The employee expressed concerns for their health as virus cases are at an all-time high in the Borderland.
“Because now I am having to decide, you know, do I take my own health into consideration, or do I consider more my students,” the staff member said.
Norma De La Rosa, the president of the El Paso Teacher’s Association, said this is something teachers in all school districts are feeling.
“It’s becoming a very painful decision for them because that’s not what they came into the profession for, they came to work with kids,” De La Rosa said.
A Texas Education Agency spokesman listed the following school districts which have requested waivers for virtual learning:
El Paso ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review (requested 9 weeks)
Socorro ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review (requested 9 weeks)
Ysleta ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review (requested 3 weeks)
Clint ISD – granted 3 weeks, previously received 1 week (requested 4 weeks)
Canutillo ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review (requested 8 weeks)
San Elizario ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review – previously received 1 week (requested 8 weeks)
Fabens ISD – granted 3 weeks (requested 4 weeks)
Tornillo ISD – granted 2 weeks, remaining weeks requested in review (requested 4 weeks)
Anthony ISD – requested, but determined it was not needed at this time (requested 4 weeks)
Fort Hancock ISD – approved for 1 week (requested 4 weeks)
TEA said an extended waiver offer running through Jan. 31st has been offered to El Paso-area school districts, but they still have to apply for the waiver.
On October 23, Region 19 school districts and TEA collaborated on an on-campus attendance plan. Based on this, school districts will mitigate on-campus instruction based on tri-county hospitalization information from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The hospitalization rates are categorized into four types of emergency percentage Zones which impact the day-to-day operations of school districts. The counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, and Culberson are currently in the Red Zone with a hospitalization rate of 32%. All school systems in the region will take steps to implement this as a minimum framework no later than Monday, November 9, 2020.
With some students back on San Elizario campuses and most returning on November 9, the Superintendent says they’re implementing temperature checks, socially distanced classrooms
“What it allows us is to refine our safety protocols in place,” Meza-Chavez said.
The Superintendent said more and more families are also choosing to keep their kids at home, leaving less to return in person.
“It’s like the commisioner said, from now until November 9 get your affairs in order and I think that’s what San Elizario is doing,” Meza-Chavez said.
San Elizario said it is also offering rapid Covid testing to employees and students starting Wednesday, October 28.