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Get vaccinated, get masked: SA-area school districts urge precautions amid omicron surge

Multiple school districts in Bexar County are continuing to monitor the latest COVID-19 data while stressing the importance of mask wearing and vaccines.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas school districts are preparing for the return to classes as soon as next week while coronavirus cases surge across the state.

Northside Independent School District is among the districts starting back up on Monday after winter break. 

“I think there’s a lot of possibilities for us in the coming year and I’m excited to see students back in our buildings on Monday,” said NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods.

The district released a letter to parents and staff, detailing how NISD is monitoring local health conditions in light of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

Mask wearing is strongly encouraged at NISD, although not required, unlike San Antonio ISD and Edgewood ISD, where staff, children and visitors must wear face coverings inside school facilities.

Wood noted the district is also pushing for families to get vaccinated in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.  

“We’re going to really encourage maybe more than we have to this point, families to really consider vaccinations. We’re going to try to do some information sessions with some doctors to explain to families what the science is behind the vaccine,” Wood said.

Free COVID-19 testing is available from Metro Health at Farris Stadium and Inselmann Field. Appointments are required.

NISD is hosting a vaccine clinic January 2 at the Northside Activity Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is needed.

Health experts anticipate potential dips in student and teacher attendance in the coming weeks.

“Particularly as we return to school, we may be finding that there are a lot of students or a lot of teachers who are unable to come into school because they’re in their quarantine period or recovering from SARS COV2,” said Dr. Marjorie David, a physician with UT Health San Antonio.

Woods believes the CDC’s shortened duration for quarantine and isolation will prove beneficial in the long run.

“Even if a child is a close contact or is positive, we feel like that will enable us to get that student back in the building sooner than we would have in the past. 10 days of instruction under the old quarantine rules. That’s a lot,” Woods said.

Northeast ISD also sent out a letter to families, encouraging mask wearing at all campuses and district facilities.

NEISD offers free rapid COVID-19 testing at the NEISD Sports Park Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Students who receive their parent’s permission can get tested at school.

“As we return to school after the break, there will continue to be challenges when it comes to COVID-19. But, like we have done for the past two years, we will meet these challenges head on and keep the safety of our students and staff at the forefront of everything we do,” said NEISD Superintendent Dr. Sean Maika in the letter.

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