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San Antonio to form task force on safe reopening of schools

Mayor Nirenberg made the announcement after the TEA said local health officials can make decisions about school openings without risking state funding.

SAN ANTONIO — Mayor Ron Nirenberg announced the formation of a new task force Wednesday to examine whether San Antonio schools could open safely amid the continuing coronavirus spike in Bexar County.

This came after the Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday morning that school districts will not lose state education funding if they keep classes online because local health officials decide that it is unsafe for physical classrooms and school buildings to be open.

RELATED: Texas classrooms can stay closed this fall without losing state funding if local health officials order it

Nirenberg announced the task force at the city's daily coronavirus press conference, where he reported an additional 479 cases and seven deaths.

Credit: KENS

"Many teachers and parents have reached out to us concerned about schools, and when the school year will start as a result of the COVID-19 surge," he said. "Typically schools fall under the authority of the State of Texas and local school districts, not the city of San Antonio or Bexar County, but today the Texas Education Agency announced that the local public health officials can decide whether to keep schools open for in-person instruction this fall without risking state education funding."

“Metro Health, with the support of the COVID-19 community response coalition, has convened a task force made up of parents, teachers, students, teachers’ unions, school districts, pediatricians, and public health professionals," he said. "The task force will be meeting this week to discuss the TEA guidance to make recommendations about the safe reopening of schools in Bexar County”

He said that the task force will work quickly, and a plan is expected sometime next week.

"Our focus is to make sure that above all else, our teachers and our students are in a safe environment before they return back to school," he said. "Let me be very clear: schools are not ready to reopen in August in person.”

RELATED: Texas will extend time that schools will be allowed to stay online-only, Gov. Greg Abbott says