Fort Bend ISD just announced that it is looking into offering a virtual learning option after a surge of Covid cases has made parents fearful of the virus spread.
Parents expressed concern in recent weeks that is twofold: First, children under 12 years of age are not eligible for the Covid vaccine, and second, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that schools are not permitted to mandate mask-wearing. With the dramatic rise in Covid cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant, parents are concerned about their children and their exposure to the deadly virus, which can easily be carried back home to the family.
FBISD tweeted out their plan on August 8: “As data continues to show surging COVID infection rates, FBISD began work this weekend on limited-enrollment virtual school. In person instruction begins Wednesday, Aug. 11. Virtual option launches later this month. Details to come.”
Meanwhile, Houston ISD will vote Thursday on implementing a mask mandate in all its schools, despite the governor’s orders. The mandate would apply to students, staff, and visitors and is bolstered by the fact that Harris County has raised its threat to red, the highest level of threat for the virus.
Katy ISD still does not plan to offer virtual schooling this year, announcing that it did not receive the state funding to do so. Katy has also not announced any plans to mandate mask-wearing in their schools.
Texas has seen a significant spike in Covid cases in recent weeks, with some hospitals adding outdoor tents to house patients. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that Covid diagnoses leading to hospitalizations are up 50%. DSHS says that they are seeing a rise in unvaccinated patients sick with the Delta variant, and Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Shuford said, “We’re seeing steep increases in hospitalizations, steeper than we thought at the same point of even the first wave or the second wave. This alarming rise in cases and hospitalizations makes it even more important for every person to go get fully vaccinated.”
But Governor Abbott stands by his original statement, and at this point, shows no sign of rescinding it. “There will be no mask mandate imposed, and the reasons for that are very clear,” Abbott said. “There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity. It would be inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask.”
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