East Texas superintendents discuss new school year with COVID-19

Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - With the start of the new school year imminent, East Texas superintendents joined East Texas Now to discuss what the upcoming school year will look like.

COVID-19 changed the way things were done last year and as these superintendents say some things have changed again but some things have not.

With the increase in the amounts of cases of COVID-19, many things put into place last year at East Texas schools will be remaining the same. One change is that masks cannot be mandated at this time.

Tyler ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said, “there’s an order in place, unlike last year when we did have that flexibility it just seems like that is not going to be a possibility here.”

Despite this, many things taken to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 last year will continue to be done.

Pittsburg ISD Superintendent Terry Waldrep says this will be especially apparent with students under the age of 12, who are unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, “continue to where possible to space our kids out, to social distance, to use different kinds of releasing in the mornings and in the afternoons, you know allowing our teachers to keep the seating charts so that we can contact trace the best that we can.”

Waldrep said there was some challenge with staffing this year, but they have been able to get the staffing they need, “there was a little more retirees this year than normal, whether that was because of COVID or not, I’m not sure. But yes it has been a challenge to fill the classrooms with certified teachers but we’re able to do that, our teachers are in place.”

Mineola ISD Superintendent Cody Mize said they will continue communicating to parents when a child is diagnosed with COVID-19 saying testing and contact tracing helped them greatly last year. “We thought that was a really effective tool that we had in place last year, but I think good communication across the board, that’s what’s going to need to take place so that we can effectively keep schools open, the most important thing that we have to do as a school system is make sure that our kids are safe and our parents need to have that confidence that our system is safe so we want to make sure that we communicate those things.”

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