The Aledo ISD has just released a letter to parents and guardians of the district announcing that the district will continue its COVID-19 health and safety protocols after Gov. Greg Abbott announced an end to mask mandates in the state.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Bohn said in the letter that the decision was made after “reviewing the COVID-19 requirements and guidelines issued by the Texas Education Agency and other agencies.” In addition, Bohn said the district had consulted with “staff, parents, community members, Parker County Public Health officials, and our Aledo ISD COVID-19 Task Force.”
The Texas Education Agency’s guidelines have not changed regarding protocols for COVID-19.
Among reasons Bohn gave for the decision was that teachers and staff had not been eligible for COVID-19 vaccines until this week.
“While Aledo ISD officials have been advocating for all school staff to be eligible for and have access to COVID-19 vaccinations since they became available, Texas school staff was not made eligible until the day after Governor Abbott made his announcement,” Bohn said. “Some of our teachers and staff have become very ill and required long hospital stays due to this disease. We care about the health and well-being of our teachers, staff and students, and we cannot serve our students and keep our schools open if they are not healthy.”
Under TEA guidelines, face coverings are a mitigating factor in the definition of “close contact.”
“The removal of masks would likely increase the incidence of “close contacts” and therefore the numbers of students and staff who would be required to quarantine, missing school and activities,” Bohn wrote. “If a large number of staff members cannot be at school, we will struggle to serve students and keep our schools open, especially given the current statewide shortage of substitute teachers.
“The best thing for students and staff is open schools that stay open. Aledo ISD has been one of the few school districts to safely have in-person instruction for the vast majority of our students since the first day of school of the 2020-2021 school year without having to close any campus for any period of time due to COVID-19.”
Bohn wrote that the health and safety protocols have allowed the district “to maintain staffing levels to keep our schools open and to give our students the academic, social, emotional, extracurricular and athletic opportunities that they love and deserve as part of their school experience. We want to avoid possible increases in COVID-19 illness among students and staff as well as excessive required quarantining in an effort to preserve these important opportunities for our students.”